‘Hellwatch’: This heavy metal festival in France has an innovative way of tackling sexual violence

‘Hellwatch’: This heavy metal festival in France has an innovative way of tackling sexual violence

Backpack strapped up tight, smartphone in hand, Géraldine Vallée zig-zags through the crowds of revellers at Hellfest, a heavy metal festival in western France. 

With one eye glued to the screen, the volunteer monitors an application through which festival-goers can report sexual assault or inappropriate behaviour. If called upon, she is ready to tackle abuse and support victims in any shape or form. 

26-year-old Vallée is a member of ‘Hellwatch’, an innovative volunteer brigade set up by Hellfest to help people feel safe and prevent harm at their festival.  

“When an alert is displayed, we geolocate it and the nearest team goes immediately to the site”, says Vallée, who wears an orange and white t-shirt marked ‘Hellwatch’. Her top is also adorned with an image of Valkyrie, a female warrior in Norse mythology. 

Using the Safer application, revellers can issue an alert according to the degree of urgency they feel, with options of “I’m embarrassed”, “I’m harassed” or “I’m in danger”.

Vallée is one of 60 volunteers (30 for each of the event’s two weekends), who patrol the Hellfest’s many stages, bars and showers in small squads. 

During the first weekend of the festival in France’s western Loire-Atlantique region, between 17 – 19 June, several reports were made on the app, according to the ‘Hellwatch’ team leader, David Alglave.

Young women in particular claimed to have been touched by men in dense and agitated crowds. Others mentioned inappropriate gestures under the water jets installed to refresh festival-goers.

Hellfest organisers asked Alglave, a clinical psychologist, to set up the vigilance brigade, after numerous women said on social media they suffered sexual abuse at the festival in 2019. 

“The atmosphere of Hellfest has always been fraternal and benevolent. But like all festivals, we are not immune to unacceptable behaviour,” said event organisers, adding that they wanted to “take the lead” following the women’s online testimonies.  

The majority of the Hellwatch team is made up Alglave’s young colleagues and psychology students. The volunteers are “capable of collecting the words of victims in a state of shock.” All are trained before the festival to deal with gender-based and sexual violence.

Alglave claims that even the very presence of Hellwatch can deter inappropriate behaviour, albeit to a “certain extent.” 

However, only in their first year, the team at Hellwatch say their initiative is constantly evolving and they have plans to expand into the campsite area of the festival.

“The goal is not to feel vulnerable just because you’re a woman,” said Alglave. “Never, nowhere.”

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Greater Anglia rail strike dates: Which trains will be cancelled or delayed by walkout and how long it lasts

The 24-hour walkout has been organised by the Aslef union in a pay dispute – with the network serving eastern England, north-east London and the Stansted Express route Read more »

Chris Pincher: Tory MP has whip withdrawn during investigation over groping claims

Former chief whip has been sacked from the party following allegations by two men Read more »

Stranger Things 4 Vol. 2 Actually Broke Netflix

Netflix To say that anticipation was high for “Stranger Things” Season 4, Volume 2 would be an understatement.  Fans have waited on bated breath for a month, anxiously contemplating who would ... Read more »

BVB, Frankfurt, Stuttgart: Sieben Tests bei Sky Sport News

Der Sportnachrichtensender Sky Sport News wird im Juli insgesamt sieben Testspiele von Vizemeister Borussia Dortmund, Europa-League-Sieger Eintracht Frankfurt sowie dem VfB Stuttgart live übertragen. Dies teilte der TV-Sender am Freitag ... Read more »

‘Urgent’ action needed in Europe over monkeypox spread: WHO

WHO’s Europe director calls on governments and civil society ‘to scale up efforts’ to reverse the spread of the virus. Read more »

Top TweetDeck for Mac alternatives to ease power users’ pain

These TweetDeck for Mac alternatives are worth checking out. Photo: Rajesh With Twitter killing off TweetDeck for Mac today, users who didn’t plan ahead might be scrambling for options to ... Read more »

White House awards highest civilian honor to Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs gives one of many keynote addresses. Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC The White House said Friday it would award late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs the Presidential Medal of Freedom ... Read more »

Ecuador government, protesters sign deal

PROMISING AGREEMENT Ecuador’s Minister of Government Francisco Jimenez (right) and the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in Ecuador (Conaie), Leonidas Iza (foreground) shake hands with each other and ... Read more »

Australia 'deeply concerned' about HK rights

CURTAILED FREEDOM? This file photo shows police using cordon tape to control crowds in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on June 4, 2022, near the venue where Hong ... Read more »

2 drug suspects nabbed; P1-M shabu confiscated

DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: Police arrested two suspected peddlers of illegal drugs and confiscated from their possession 150 grams of suspected shabu worth P1.02 million and a handgun during a buy-bust here ... Read more »

BBM inaugural speech homage to unity–analysts

AS President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was sworn into office on Thursday, experts said his speech highlighted the same messages that had anchored his electoral campaign — unity and inclusivity. ... Read more »

Rotary Intl D3830 invites members to 'imagine rotary'

ROTARY International President Jennifer Jones has invited every member to “imagine a rotary” where each member acts to make his/her dreams become a reality and they make the most of ... Read more »

US urged to cease contact with Taiwan

WAR MACHINE This file photo shows a Taiwan-made CM-34 Clouded Leopard armored vehicle driving through its paces at a military base in Nantou county, central Taiwan, on June 16, 2022. ... Read more »

US blasts 'erosion of autonomy' in HK

SYMPATHETIC ALLY (From left) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan look on as they listen during a ... Read more »

Manila Clock Tower declared prime tourist spot

(UPDATE) THE iconic Manila City Hall clock tower has been formally declared as a premier tourist spot in the nation's capital. The declaration was contained in an ordinance signed by ... Read more »

Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in

HISTORIC APPOINTMENT In this handout image released by the US Supreme Court, retired Justice Stephen G. Breyer administers the Judicial Oath to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, while her husband Patrick ... Read more »

World Bank creates fund to better prevent, respond to pandemics

This undated file photo shows the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. XINHUA PHOTO Washington, United States: The World Bank's board on Thursday (Friday in Manila) approved creation of a ... Read more »

Policeman arrested for carnapping

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested an active member of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion, Police Regional Office in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, over two charges of carnapping. ... Read more »

2 Abu Sayyaf men killed in separate clashes

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two Abu Sayyaf terrorists were killed in separate clashes in southern Philippines, a hotbed of Muslim insurgency in the country, officials said Friday. Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., ... Read more »

CAR celebrates monthlong 35th anniversary

BAGUIO CITY: The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) celebrates its monthlong 35th founding anniversary beginning on Friday, July 1, with the kickoff program in Sagada, Mountain Province. The theme for this ... Read more »

Supreme Court 'aims to take our country backwards' with EPA ruling, Biden says

Biden said the Supreme Court is trying to take the country 'backwards' with EPA ruling foiling his climate change agenda Read more »

High duty may extend slack season for gold, keep prices in check for now

The sharpest increase in the import duty on gold by the Centre saw the yellow metal’s price rising sharply in the domestic market on Friday. The government had hiked basic ... Read more »

Coal India, the producer with no experience in importing supplies

A CIL internal assessment shows that each consignment of 3 million tonnes of coal imports at current prices will cost it about Rs 3,850 crore One of the quirky elements ... Read more »

Udaipur murder: Pak-based Dawat-e-Islami denies link to any acts of terror

Police personnel deployed after the murder of a tailor, in Udaipur (Photo: PTI) The Dawat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan's largest Sunni-Barelvi Muslim organisations, which has been in the news after the ... Read more »

Dy CM Fadnavis absent at Maharashtra BJP's celebration, to skip exec meet

(Photo: ANI) Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would not be attending the BJP’s national executive meeting in Hyderabad, a party source said here. He was also conspicuously absent from ... Read more »

ONDC to give public access by August, has 150 entities on board yet

T Koshy, CEO of ONDC Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), the ambitious programme of the Union government to democratise the fast-growing e-commerce sector, will start opening up its platform ... Read more »

Apple debuts new trailer for third and final season of See

The final season of See releases on August 26th, exclusively on Apple TV+ Read more »

Microsoft updates Azure AD with support for temporary passcodes

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) now allows admins to issue time-limited passcodes that can be used to register new passwordless authentication methods, during Windows onboarding, or to recover accounts easier ... Read more »

Who is Katie Boutler? How injury, grief and a famous boyfriend make her Wimbledon run like a Hollywood script

The 25-year-old has had to show a lot of patience but fortune appears to have finally turned her way as she competes in the third round of a grand slam tournament for the first time, writes Paul Eddison Read more »

Boozy family brawl breaks out in town centre and leaves man ‘sparked out’

The argument started after the family met in a pub and quickly escalated (Pictures: CPS / SWNS) A court has been shown the moment a boozy family reunion turned violent, ... Read more »

Novak Djokovic steamrolls past fellow Serbian in seventh Wimbledon title hunt

Novak Djokovic is looking to win his fourth-straight Wimbledon title (Picture: Reuters) Novak Djokovic continued his quest for a seventh Wimbledon title as he steamrolled past fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic ... Read more »

Why isn’t Zara Aleena’s name on everyone’s lips?

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Zara Aleena, a 35-year-old aspiring lawyer was robbed, sexually assaulted and killed a 10-minute walk from her home (Picture: PA) It’s a infrequent ... Read more »

Met Police officers sacked over racist WhatsApp posts about Meghan Markle

L-R: Former officer Hammond and now sacked PCs Hefford and Jeer (Picture: PA) Two Metropolitan Police officers who shared vile racist messages on WhatsApp comparing Meghan Markle to a golliwog ... Read more »

Hong Kong’s transition to ‘police state’ marked by security chief’s inauguration 25 years after UK handover

On the anniversary of Honk Hong’s transition from the UK to China, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping oversees the inauguration of John Lee, who oversaw the police crackdown in 2019 Read more »

Cyndi Lauper re-releases abortion rights single in response to Roe v Wade being overturned

Cyndi Lauper sings for Dick Clarke’s New Years Rockin Eve 2020/2021 (Picture: ABC/Getty Images) Cyndi Lauper has shared a re-recorded, updated version of her 1993 abortion rights single Sally’s Pigeons. ... Read more »

Cleaning hack lets you get the most out of your Vileda Turbo Smart Spin Mop

Keep your dirty water and clean water as separate as possible for sparkling floors (Picture: TikTok @samina_iltaf) Any cleaning enthusiast worth their salt has a mop they swear by. However, ... Read more »

What is kinship care? Families who care for relatives’ children in crisis

Everything you need to know about the Kinship care initiative Kinship carers are having to give up the children in their care due to the cost of living crisis / ... Read more »

Israel U19s vs England U19s LIVE! Euros final match stream, latest team news, lineups, TV, prediction today

Close I srael U19s vs England U19s LIVE! The 2022 European U19 Championship final pits England’s Young Lions against Israel in the Slovakian city of Trvana tonight. Ian Foster’s side ... Read more »

Motor racing-Hamilton removes nose stud ahead of British GP practice

SILVERSTONE, England – Seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton backed down in a spat with Formula One’s governing body and removed a nose stud before taking part in practice for the ... Read more »

Cricket-Stokes to skip England's T20 series v India, returns for ODIs

LONDON – England test captain Ben Stokes will skip the Twenty20 series against India but will return for the one-day internationals, England’s cricket board (ECB) said on Friday. Jos Buttler ... Read more »