Culture

A Woman Made A Citizen’s Arrest After Being Allegedly Sexually Assaulted At Falls Festival

Start your new year right by holding perpetrators accountable.

A woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted at Falls Festival in Tasmania this week responded by taking justice quite literally into her own hands, teaming up with a friend to perform a citizen’s arrest on her assailant.

The pair managed to apprehend the man, who allegedly groped a woman’s breasts in a mosh pit, and hand him over to security. Tasmania Police have since confirmed that a 32-year-old man was arrested and charged over the incident.

Tasmania Police Senior Sergeant Darren Latham and Falls Festival co-producer Paul Piticco praised the citizen’s arrest and swift reporting of the incident.

“It is encouraging that people are taking positive action, but we of course wish that it didn’t happen at all,” Latham said.

Piticco similarly condemned “unacceptable behaviour” at festivals, saying he was similarly “encouraged by the fact that this unacceptable behaviour is being identified and people are coming forward”.

“It takes a lot of courage and we are happy to be seeing a cultural change where victims feel comfortable to report.”

He also said that “as a society we need to continue to educate people about consent to eradicate this dreadful behaviour and provide victims with a safe space”, and yeah, no shit. The citizen’s arrest marked the third alleged assault at Falls just this year — that we know about.

And on that note, some have argued that the festival itself could be doing much better. Piticco’s statement has been criticised, including by the Women’s Legal Service Tasmania, as pretty weak, given that it’s the first statement the festival has given after three reported assaults. The festival has also been criticised for apparently denying media access following those reports.

As Susan Fahey from the Women’s Legal Service told the ABC, that response was “a little disappointing” — “a stronger condemnation of the recent assaults could be really helpful…the kind of thing that does give people confidence that if they report it they will be listened to.”

She did acknowledge some of the positive steps the festival has taken this year, though, which included having plain clothes police patrol the mosh pit, and handing out stickers and badges reminding festival-goers that sexual assault is a crime.

Still, as depressing as continued and widespread reports of sexual assault and harassment are, huge props to the pair who took down this particular alleged attacker. Start your new year right, by holding perpetrators accountable.