Women-only music festival in Sweden to go ahead after crowdfunding campaign | Music

Sweden will host a women-only music festival in the summer of 2018, after a successful crowdfunding campaign raised more than 500,000 Swedish krona (£47,000) for the venture, from 3,300 people.

Statement festival, which forbids cis men, comes in the wake of a series of sexual assaults at Swedish music festivals such as Bråvalla and Putte I Parken. There were four rapes and 23 sexual assaults at this year’s edition of Bråvalla, leading the event to be cancelled next year.

The organisers of Statement have railed against “year after year” of unsafe events for women. In their plea for crowdfunding, they wrote: “Help us to create a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety.”

Statement will allow cis women, trans women and those who identify as non-binary to attend. An update on the project’s Kickstarter page said the crowdfunding revenue would secure an as yet undisclosed venue for the festival.

The festival is being organised by Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare, who originally wrote on Twitter following the Bråvalla attacks: “What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?”

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Police raid offices of women’s groups in Poland after protests | World news

Women’s rights groups have denounced police raids on their offices in several Polish cities that resulted in the seizing of documents and computers, a day after women staged anti-government marches to protest at the country’s restrictive abortion law.

The raids took place on Wednesday in the cities of Warsaw, Gdańsk, Łódź and Zielona Góra. They targeted two organisations, the Women’s Rights Centre and Baba, which help victims of domestic violence and participated in this week’s anti-government protests.

Women’s rights activists said on Thursday that the loss of files would hamper their work, and accused authorities of trying to intimidate them. Prosecutors denied the accusation, saying the timing of the raids a day after the marches was coincidental.

Some fear the ruling Law and Justice party, led by Jarosław Kaczyński, is following in the footsteps of neighbouring Hungary, where non-governmental groups have faced harassment under the prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

“This is an abuse of power because, even if there is any suspicion of wrongdoing, an inquiry could be done in a way that doesn’t affect the organisations’ work,” Marta Lempart, the head of the Polish Women’s Strike, which organised the protests, told Associated Press.

The women’s groups said they were told by police that prosecutors were looking for evidence in an investigation into suspected wrongdoing in the justice ministry under the former government. At the time the ministry provided funding to the women’s groups.

“We are afraid that this is just a pretext or warning signal to not engage in activities not in line with the ruling party,” the Women’s Rights Centre said in a statement.

Anita Kucharska-Dziedzic, who heads Baba, said police entered her office in Zielona Góra, western Poland, at 9am on Wednesday and worked until 6pm removing files.

She told AP her group was not aware of any wrongdoing by justice ministry officials it was in contact with.

She also said she now expected problems continuing her projects due to the loss of files, and is also concerned because the documents contained private information on victims of domestic abuse who had sought the group’s help.

Barbora Cernusakova, Amnesty International’s researcher on Poland, called the police operations “very worrying”.

“We understand that the police actions came in the context of an investigation against former staff of the Ministry of Justice, but the NGOs, and the women and girls they support, will suffer the consequences,” Cernusakova said.

Jacek Pawlak, a spokesman for prosecutors in Poznań, where the investigation is being led, said the raids were part of an ongoing investigation but would not divulge what the probe was about. He said there was no attempt to harass the women’s organisations.

This week’s street demonstrations came on the first anniversary of a mass Black Protest by women dressed in black that stopped a plan in parliament for a total ban on abortion.

Despite that success, women’s rights activists marched to protest that abortion was still illegal in most cases, and called for a liberalisation of the law.

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Dramatic fall in sexual assaults at Pamplona bull run after campaign | World news

Pamplona’s efforts to tackle the scourge of sexual assaults that has blighted its famous bull-running festival in recent years appear to be paying off, with this year’s celebrations showing a marked reduction in violent sexual attacks.

Two years ago, the mayor of the northern Spanish city admitted that sexual assaults had become “a black stain” on the festivities.

Last year’s event was marred by a notorious gang rape, an attempted rape and several allegations of sexual assault.

This year, according to the city council, police have investigated 11 cases of groping, one of them involving intimidation, but no cases of rape or attempted rape.

“Every day is a challenge, but things are going well,” said Aritz Romeo, city councillor for public safety. “We’re seeing fewer cases than in recent years and of a less serious nature.”

However, campaigners say that far more needs to be done to address the underlying sexism and misogyny evident on T-shirts and badges seen during the festival.

The LilithFeminista collective and others have been tweeting images of men wearing T-shirts depicting oral sex and drawn attention to the sale of offensive badges with slogans such as: “Shut up and suck”; “Go and get beer; you’re looking ugly again”; “For someone who’s dumb, you’re not very pretty” and “Being a virgin doesn’t make you a saint”.

Romeo said that 200 such badges had been confiscated from street sellers and that police were looking into whether their messages could be considered incitement to commit hate crimes.

He said that 3,500 police officers – including those specially trained in dealing with victims of sexual abuse – had been deployed, adding that a daily list of criminal offences was published to show that abusers would be arrested and punished.

“The most important thing is raising social awareness so that in the future these things don’t happen,” he said.

“Things have already got better because of the work we’ve done on this and they’ll get better over the next five or 10 years. Younger people are increasingly aware of these issues.”

The councillor said that people were beginning to understand that any assault needed to be reported.

“A few years back, if a woman was groped in a bar, it was sorted out in the bar and no one reported it. But now, people report it and the local police go in and arrest the attacker and he goes to trial and is sentenced.”

He added: “If you do it, you pay for it.”

While LilithFeminista acknowledged that the city council had run a “strong campaign”, it said the proliferation of sexist slogans revealed the true extent of the problem.

“What makes us furious is that a whole year can be spent on such a big campaign only for people to wander round wearing T-shirts or badges with messages that are totally sexist and derogatory towards women,” said the collective.

“It shows just how much work still needs to be done in society so that people understand the problem these messages represent.”

While it was all very well having thousands of police officers on patrol, the collective added: “We think the campaign would be more effective if the authorities knew how to identify all kinds of abuse – from the least to the most serious. The gropings and rapes are at the extreme end, but there are many other situations and acts going on that are neither reported nor controlled.”

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Polish government widely condemned over morning-after pill law | World news

The Polish government has been accused of launching a “sexual counter-revolution” that is an affront to European values after passing legislation reducing women’s access to the morning-after pill.

A law signed off by the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, in defiance of human rights groups and European medicines agency guidelines turns emergency contraception into a prescription drug.

Women and girls 15 and over will now need to make an appointment with a doctor. Polish campaigners and MEPs in Brussels say the change will have the greatest impact on rape victims and those living in isolated areas of the country.

The Dutch liberal MEP, Sophie in ’t Veld, said the legislation was a violation of shared European values.

“The current populist national-conservative Polish government is enforcing a sexual counter-revolution, against the health interests and wishes of Polish women and girls,” she said.

“Restricting access to the morning-after pill, combined with the right of doctors to refuse treatment based on religious grounds, will have far reaching consequences.”

The European commissioner for health, Vytenis Andriukaitis, “personally regretted” the Polish government’s legislation, a spokesman said.

A cross-party group of members of the European parliament visited Poland in May to talk to campaigners about their concerns with the legislation, and other aspects of the government’s attitude to reproductive health.

But while there are deep concerns in Brussels over an array of legislation passed by Poland’s rightwing Law and Justice government, the relevant area of law falls firmly within the competences of member states.

A spokesman for the International Planned Parenthood Federation said: “On women’s rights, we are faced with a two-speed European Union where girls living in the right place can get free contraception, including over-the-counter emergency contraception, while others face an uphill struggle.

“In Poland, even if you are a teenage rape victim, you will now have to fight to find a doctor who might, or might not, help you.

“The new Polish law passed by the country’s chauvinist authorities allow abuse of power by doctors who may feel that they have a right to judge the sexual lives of women based on their own moral convictions. As Europeans we cannot stay still and watch.”

Poland’s health minister, Konstanty Radziwiłł, has claimed the legislation was necessary as hormonal means of contraception were being abused and could result in harmful health effects.

But in 2014 the EMA’s committee for medicinal products for human use advised that ellaOne, the most widely stocked morning-after pill in Poland, “can be used safely and effectively without medical prescription”.

Draginja Nadaždin, director of Amnesty International in Poland, said of the legislation: “We consider it as another blow to women’s rights, will affect teenagers and those in remote rural areas, and will have a particularly catastrophic impact on rape survivors.”

Poland also has some of the most restrictive laws on abortion in Europe. Current legislation bans all terminations unless a pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, it presents a health risk to the mother or if the foetus is found to be severely deformed.

Last year the Polish parliament rejected a bill proposed by the government that would have permitted abortions only in cases where a woman’s life was at risk. MPs were stirred into opposition in part by street protests attended by tens of thousands of women.

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Madrid tackles ‘el manspreading’ on public transport with new signs | World news

Madrid’s transport authorities are taking a stand against seated male selfishness with a campaign to tackle the social scourge that is manspreading.

Fed up with men whose thighs fail to respect the boundaries of bus seats, the Spanish capital’s Municipal Transport Company (EMT) is to put up signs discouraging the practice.

An anti-manspreading sign on the Madrid public transport network.



An anti-manspreading sign on the Madrid public transport network.

The EMT – which explains that “el manspreading” is “an English term that describes the posture of men who open their legs too wide and take up neighbouring seats” – said the new signs are intended to remind people of the need to respect the space of all bus passengers.

Would-be manspreaders will hopefully be deterred by small pictures of a thoughtless, faceless red man invading the seat to his right.

“This new information sign is similar to those that already exist in other transport systems around the world to stop people adopting a posture that makes others uncomfortable,” the company said.

The EMT came up with the initiative in partnership with Madrid city council’s equality department and the Microrrelatos Feministas collective, a women’s group that has launched an online petition for such signs to be installed.

Their petition, which has more than 11,500 signatures, says: “All public transport has stickers explaining that room needs to be made for pregnant women, people with buggies, older people and those with disabilities, but there’s something that affects all of us practically every time we use public transport: manspreading.”

Similar initiatives have been launched around the world. Three years ago, the New York subway system began a crackdown on the problem with a campaign called “Dude, stop the spread please. It’s a space issue”.

Seattle’s Sound Transit agency, meanwhile has used a sprawling self-centred purple octopus to plead for public transport courtesy.

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UK rents fall for first time since 2009, plus peer-to-peer lending left me in the red | Money

Hello and welcome to this week’s Money Talks – a roundup of the week’s biggest stories and some things you may have missed.

Money news

UK house prices fall for third month in a row for first time since financial crisis

Average UK rents fall for first time in more than seven years

Revealed: chocolate and drinks shrink since Brexit vote with no price drop

Companies have largely denied the influence of Brexit on the sizes of products, including the redesigned Toblerone bar.



Companies have largely denied the influence of Brexit on the sizes of products, including the redesigned Toblerone bar.

Letting agents found charging tenants more than £800 in fees

Keep women in academia by providing childcare, historian urges universities

Feature

Peer-to-peer lending promised 6%, but I’ve been left red-faced and in the red

James Patterson hoped his £1,000 investment in Funding Circle would reap returns 10 times more than his bank offered. But 18 months on, he’s losing money.



James Patterson hoped his £1,000 investment in Funding Circle would reap returns 10 times more than his bank offered. But 18 months on, he’s losing money. Illustration: Leon Edler

In pictures

Homes with designer gardens

For sale: a manor house in Surrey with gardens laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.



For sale: a manor house in Surrey with gardens laid out by Gertrude Jekyll.

In the spotlight

The Costa dream turned sour and homebuyers are estimated to have lost £5.3bn – now Spanish banks are finally paying out reports Stephen Burgen

It has been estimated British buyers are owed £5.3bn in deposits and stage payments on properties purchased off-plan, most of which were never completed.



It has been estimated British buyers are owed £5.3bn in deposits and stage payments on properties purchased off-plan, most of which were never completed. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Consumer champions

‘I’m irritated you even asked’: What’s the worst customer service you’ve had?

One reader’s polite inquiry to replace plug plants was met with outrage by the nursery. Send us your nominations for rude customer care.



One reader’s polite inquiry to replace plug plants was met with outrage by the nursery. Send us your nominations for rude customer care. Photograph: Alamy

Spot check in public by Aldi security guard was dehumanising

I was badly let down by Bank of Scotland’s bereavement service

Fighting Petplan tooth and claw over our cat’s claim

Scottish Power in the dark about my mother’s electricity supply

Money deals

Get great value annual multi-trip or single trip holiday cover with Guardian travel insurance, provided by Voyager.

You could save when you send money overseas, get free online transfers, great exchange rates and expert guidance from Guardian money transfers, provided by Moneycorp.

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