Another day, another woeful reminder that safe spaces for women continue to shrink. A woman has gone public with her account of facing sexual assault and molestation from a gang of 30 men at a recently held Solis Festival in Lahore.
The woman, Lila Khan, went on Instagram to recount the whole incident, alleging that she and her sister were assaulted at the recently held Solis Festival at Lahore’s Oasis Golf and Aqua Resort on April 13.
She says that the group of men tried to undress her and assaulted her, despite repeated cries for help to the organizers behind the event, Full Circle Agency. The agency in charge of security arrangements at the Solis Festival was called SSB Bouncers, who say that they are investigating the lady’s claims.
Lila Recounts the Horrific Experience at Solis Festival
As for Lila, here’s how she went public with her story. On her Instagram, she began her account of the incident by saying:
“When I got there [at the Solis Festival], I noticed there were a lot of guys. That really didn’t surprise me because in Pakistan, the male community outnumbers the girls in public all the time. People were staring, people always stare. It wasn’t a big deal.”
However, things turned ugly fast:
“As soon as we got there, I had issues with people trying to touch me and my male friends would deal with it. Towards the end of the event, an incident happened that made it really scary. It felt like a life and death thing. That’s what I felt like.”
Lila goes on to say that someone took advantage of her vulnerable situation. Here’s what she alleged:
“A security guard had grabbed me… physically, sexually, aggressively. I turned around and noted who it was. I told my guy friend who talked to him and the guy pretended to be an actual security guard and asked me if everything’s alright.”
Following this incident, Lila’s friend did not buckle down. He confronted the ‘guard’ again and this time the guard told them both to step to the side, like any other security guy could.
No sooner did they oblige, Lila mentions that things got out of hand. She was cut off from her friends. That wasn’t all.
“As soon as I turned around to face my friend, I don’t know where my other friends went, there were so many hands grabbing me below the waist. Like, millions of hands. It seemed like it was planned. I don’t know if these people knew each other but they acted like they did. It was really gross, really disgusting.”
Things went from bad to worse
That wasn’t the end of Lila’s nightmare as even her sister was undergoing something similar.
At another part of the venue, she saw how her sister was dealing with another harasser, and turned to help her. The crowd didn’t relent and the sisters started screaming.
“We both started screaming. People kept touching us. We didn’t know what to do. At first, I thought I was going insane. I did a 360 turn and felt hands touching me at every turn. I realised it wasn’t me [imagining things].”
Lila says that after mujch struggle and mental anguish, with her sister fainting at one point as well, its a miracle she managed to escape the gang of sick individuals.
The Organizers of Solis Festival Respond
The Solis Festival, which was organized by a popular beverage brand, was marketed as “Pakistani’s biggest musical event ever.” It roped in international DJs such as Burak Yeter and FDVM.
Speaking to a local media outlet, organizer Shaz Hayat had this to say regarding the whole incident:
“We do events all over the world under the brand Solis. We get the talent and then it’s executed by a local team in Pakistan. We were alerted about this incident by our local representatives, and we reached out to the woman in question. She hasn’t responded to us yet.”
However, he did go on to say that its not the organizers of Solis Festival who should be accountable here, but rather, the attendees as well:
“We will take all the action we can from our side. But it’s also the Pakistani people’s responsibility to end this stuff. How can we keep bringing international music to Pakistan if people don’t know how to behave?”
The security agency SSB Bouncers also responded:
“If that (incident) happened other security guards or people amongst the crowd would’ve taken action against that there and then as it is the nature of of us Pakistanis to offer a hand at the slightest of incident taking place.”
It should be recalled that in 2017, during a concert featuring Atif Aslam, the singer himself called out a harasser from the crowd who was molesting a girl in the audience.
This is a developing story and we’ll be updating it as new information comes in.