Women Were Sexually Harassed At A Music Festival In Saudi Arabia. Sonam Kapoor Posts A Story About How Good The Festival Was. Wow!
The last time that I attended a concert was back in 2016 when Coldplay came to Mumbai and my best friend and I literally scampered for tickets. The concert, that had me dancing, singing along and at one particular song – crying, for it was that moving, was one of the best experiences for me. And while a lot of us thought, that it being India and all, it wouldn’t be all amazing and rosy, we were in for a surprise. But the only thing that touched us that night was the music. So you see, we tend to think that concerts are fun and to be enjoyed by all. And it speaks not just for the concert but for the country as well. Something that Saudi Arabia has been struggling with.
The recently MDL Beast Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia saw many many celebrities in attendance, one of them being our very own Sonam Kapoor. Now Saudi isn’t exactly known for being liberal with the country only now opening up avenues for women. Till very recently, women couldn’t even drive, much less be seen enjoying music at a festival. So obviously, some PR was going to be required for the nation to work on its ‘cool’ image.
Mind you, this is a nation that is known for its staunch oppression of women and the MDL Beast Festival is being looked at as a promotional gimmick to improve the name and tourism of the country. The festival saw several influencers and celebrities in attendance for the big fest.
Also Read : Saudi Arabia Lifts Its Mandate On Gender Segregated Entrances. At This Point, It’s Faring Better Than India When It Comes To Women
And while all looked as glamorous as it was advertised, there was a lot that went behind the fun Instagram stories of celebrities like Sonam Kapoor, who may have made the time to comment on how great a time she had there, but conveniently forgot to mention how the crowd failed its women. Horrifying stories about being groped and touched at the concert are coming out and being corroborated by a number of social media accounts. By most accounts, there were barely any women at the festival and the ones that were there got felt up and harassed.
Even the Americans are accustomed to these things, but this level of sexual harassment, which was in MDL beast , is not reasonable and it’s something very ugly that every person is ashamed of, and we are the Muslims??? https://t.co/YpIa5jqq6z
— عـالـيه بـنـت ابـراهـيـم (@alia_ibrahimm) December 22, 2019
i was in VIP &old men still had the nerve to come talk and throw comments towards my 16yo sister. we were sitting on a couch and on god this man wasn’t younger than 25 and he comes straight up to my sister and starts harassing her?i had to yell at a grown man for him to fuck off?
— lamar (@thinkharderrr) December 22, 2019
— محمد س. الفوزان (@msalfozan) December 21, 2019
Women have taken to social media to share personal accounts of how they were sexually harassed, cornered, made to feel uncomfortable and hurled sexual comments at. What may have started with the confession of one woman, has now turned into a thread that is trending, and putting forth the horrible experiences it offered the women in attendance. From instances of being groped to inappropriately approached, the internet is not happy. But it’s even more unforgiving is Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor’s silence over it.
The actress who too, attended the festival had shared posts about how well she was treated and was met with instant criticism. Fashion and industry watchdog Diet Prada too called her out for being a sellout. But being a woman, and one that’s quite vocal for the most part, Sonam post about being a Hindu brown female and yet being treated well, reeks of privilege and being practically blind to what was really happening on ground.
View this post on Instagram
What’s worse than an all white @revolve influencer trip? Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to rehabilitate the image of Saudi Arabia, a country said to be causing “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, according to the United Nations. According to anonymous sources, six-figure sums were offered for attendance and geo-tagged posts. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Following the government’s pre-meditated murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi in October 2018 , the arrest of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul in May 2018, the outing of a gay Saudi journalist and his partner who began receiving death threats from their families (homosexuality is a crime in Saudi Arabia and punishable by death), and countless other human rights abuses, a bevy of supermodels, influencers, celebrities, and musicians convened in Riyadh for the inaugural @mdlbeast . According to @hypebeast , the electronic music festival is “one of the most significant musical events the region has ever seen”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Saudi Arabia has been spending billions to change its image in the west, but this is sure to be the most expensive campaign yet. In a series of Instagram stories posted by transgender model @teddy_quinlivan , it was revealed that fellow model @emrata had turned down the trip, evidently aware of the country’s human rights crisis. “It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there”, said Ratajkowski in a statement to Diet Prada. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Unfortunately, not all shared the same sentiments. There are simply too many attendees to name. Dieters, feel free to tag any attendees you know of… just in case they haven’t been reading the news. • #propoganda #jamalkashoggi #humanrights #humanrightsabuse #lgbtq #lgbtqrights #freespeech #journalism #independent #womensrights #mdlbeast #edm #electronicmusic #supermodel #influencer #content #riyadh #emrata #emilyratajkowski #teddyquinlivan #model #celebrity #dj #electronicmusic #musicfestival #wtf #smh #government #corruption #dietprada
View this post on Instagram
What I just witnessed was truly special. I saw Saudi men and women ecstatic about an event that they never thought they would ever see in their lifetimes… it felt like a cultural shift. A change. Like Woodstock in the 1960’s. Social evolution is slow and takes time but what I was able to be a part of felt like one giant seed of growth. The people there throwing themselves into the experience will lead a cultural revolution that we all need to get behind and support. #mdlbeast
And here we thought that Saudi Arabia was finally making its way to a less regressive place for women. But seems like its one step forward and two steps back for this one, all with the support of spineless celebrities, who perhaps don’t weigh the consequences of their actions enough.
Several other influencers who attended and then spread a word about how cool the festival and the hospitality of the country was, were also slammed for being tone deaf and being only there for the big bucks. Guess the men took the ‘Beast’ in the MDL Beast festival a little too seriously.