Status: 26/09/2023, 21:23 p.m.
By: Lisa Metzger
The "Safe Oktoberfest" campaign is a contact point for women and girls in need at the Oktoberfest. Now it has been announced how many have sought help so far.
Munich - For 20 years now, there has been the "Safe Wiesn" campaign at the Oktoberfest. An initiative of the associations Amyna e.V. and IMMA e.V. and the counseling center Frauennotruf München to make the festive season as safe and pleasant as possible for visitors. Every year there are numerous attacks and acts of violence against women and girls at the Oktoberfest. Always at the halfway point of the folk festival, the "Safe Wiesn" publishes the first figures on how many people have already turned to the helpers of the campaign.
Oktoberfest 2023: Numbers of assaults against girls and women decline significantly
The good news is that there are significantly fewer women and girls than last year. While the helpers of the "Safe Wiesn" campaign still had to look after 2022 women and girls in 228, the number of women in need in 2023 was only 143 cases. This brings us very close to the pre-pandemic year 2019, where there were 146 cases.
The "Safe Oktoberfest" campaign helps women and girls in need during the Oktoberfest. © Imago/ Wolfgang Maria Weber/Sichere Wiesn
Oktoberfest 2022: Peak values brought helpers to the breaking point
A significant decline, which they are also very happy about, says Kristina Gottlöber, expert advisor at the "Safe Wiesn" and the Information Center for Girls' Work IMMA e.V., and at the same time makes it clear once again what the high number in 2022 has also meant for her and her team: "Last year we reached the limit. We were at the breaking point. Especially after the Italian weekend, we were bursting at the seams. In one evening, we had a peak of 68 women who came to us for help," says Gottlöber. "That's no longer affordable for us." A total of 14 women work for the "Safe Wiesn", twelve volunteers and two consultants. The fact that the number of those affected has now fallen reassures them somewhat. Although 143 assaults are still a lot.
Last year, we had 68 women seeking help in one evening. This is no longer affordable for us.
Kristina Gottlöber/Consultant "Safe Oktoberfest"; IMMA e.V.
Assaults at Oktoberfest 2023: Women under the age of 30 are particularly affected
The situations in which the women and girls sought the shelter of the "Safe Wiesn" were very different: Above all, they were young girls and women under the age of 30, mainly from Munich and the surrounding area. A third of those seeking help came from abroad, mainly New Zealand and the USA. "We still have many cases in which the women lose people or valuables," says Gottlöber. "From analyses and in close cooperation with the police, we know that such situations – when women are drunk and alone on the festival grounds – can be dangerous." Also because the women would then panic themselves, would no longer find their way home or to the hotel.
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Partly serious violence against women at the Oktoberfest 2023
In eleven cases, sexual or physical violence occurred. "From groping to more severe cases," says Gottlöber. Fortunately, however, the caregivers did not come across any case of rape. But what doesn't make the experiences any less traumatic for the women: "Of course, these are longer counseling processes in which we try to stabilize the women psychologically," says Gottlöber.
Psychological crises have also occurred quite often – with 23 cases. This applies in particular to women who have experienced sexual violence or violence in the family in the past. Severe psychological stress in everyday life has also come up for some in the context of the Oktoberfest and the colourful hustle and bustle. "One woman, for example, had experienced violence in connection with a folk festival," says Gottlöber. The Oktoberfest brought this memory back to her.
Suspected cases of knockout drops more than double
Suspected cases of knockout drops have also occurred. Many media had repeatedly reported on these suspected cases in advance. The only number that increased compared to 2022, rising from three to seven suspected cases. "However, I would like to emphasize that this is only a suspicion," says Gottlöber. Since no blood test is possible on site, it is ultimately not possible to prove the findings.
Of the total of 143 cases, "many were referred to us this year," says Gottlöber: 25 women were brought to the "Safe Wiesn" by the police, 51 by the Aicher ambulance. Thanks to attentive and committed Oktoberfest visitors, 15 women were placed in the campaign and another five by Wiesn employees. The security team brought 15 cases to the "Safe Wiesn" on the festival grounds.
Number of people seeking help in 2022: Pandemic was decisive
Why have the numbers fallen compared to 2022, even though there were significantly more people at the Oktoberfest at the halfway point of the Oktoberfest? Gottlöber explains this as follows: "Since we only had an increase in assaults in 2022 and it was still the year after Corona, we assume that it was related to the pandemic." There were many more young people at the Oktoberfest, half of all consultations were conducted in English. "The two-year break from partying has made itself felt," says Gottlöber.
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