Police in Tasmania are investigating reports of a sexual assault at Falls festival in Marion Bay.
In a statement, Tasmania police said a 19-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by an unknown man in the mosh pit of the main stage about 9.30pm Friday, during a set by the Jungle Giants.
She was helped out of the mosh pit by other women before being taken to police.
“Police and event organisers condemn the behaviour and are urging those joining the mosh pit to stay with friends and if you become isolated or feel unsafe at any time to seek assistance from the nearest police officer or event security,” the police statement said.
“Police would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident and in particular would like to speak with two female patrons who assisted the victim exit the mosh pit on Friday night.”
A second young woman complained of being sexually assaulted at festival on Saturday evening.
Police said the victim was given support after the assault in the camping area on Saturday evening, but did not want police to formally investigate.
Festival organisers said they were aware of the reports.
“We have been made aware of these complaints, and have been told by police these are allegations at this point, until the police have concluded their investigations, we are unable to comment,” festival co-producer Paul Piticco said.
Undercover police joined uniformed officers patrolling the music festival this year, after last year’s festival was marred by reports of five sexual assaults, including one rape in the camping area.
Most of the assaults reported last year occurred in the mosh pit.
“The mosh pit, yes it is designed for close contact, people crowding in,” Tasmanian senior sergeant Troy Hodge told the ABC. “What we saw last year was deliberate acts of assaults and that’s the behaviour we don’t want to tolerate.”
He urged victims of and bystanders to inappropriate sexual behaviour to report it to police.
“Police will be there [in the mosh pit] supervising — they might have a slight jig or two — but they’ll be just there supervising the mosh pit,” he said. “Inappropriate behaviour or behaviour that makes someone feel uncomfortable won’t be tolerated.”
Police reiterated that message on Saturday, saying: “The key message is that although there’s close contact in the mosh pit, any form of touching without the other person’s consent is not OK.”
Stickers with the message “enjoy the festival, don’t assault anyone” have been plastered around the venue.
Music industry players launched the Your Choice campaign following the reported sexual assaults at Falls festival last year, encouraging bands and promoters to do more to stamp out sexual assault at their gigs.
This month, leading Australian artists launched the #MeNoMore movement calling out sexual assault, harassment, and rape in the Australian music industry.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010