January 26, 2016

These Five Teenagers Are Working to Eliminate Groping at Concerts

Groping and sexual assaults at concerts is not a new problem.

But these five teenagers who created the group Girls Against are finding new and creative solutions. Ages 15 to 17, Hannah, Anna, Anni, Bea, and Ava are best friends from the UK who have decided to take a stand. After hearing about their growing success, I reached out to ask Hannah more about their project:

Why did you decide to form this awareness campaign?

Well I was sexually assaulted at a Peace gig in Glasgow in September. When my story was made public and I received huge amounts of support we realized that we were in the position to do something about it. We had all been friends for a while and we knew that we wanted to do something together so we started brainstorming and Girls Against happened! We’ve all had experiences with sexual harassment at gigs so it’s something that’s really important to us.

What is the mission of Girls Against, and how are you working to achieve it?

Our mission it to eliminate sexual harassment and assault at gigs and concerts. We are achieving this by contacting security companies and the venues they operate in in the UK. We’re working with them to change their policies and make them public. We’re also working on training on how to spot and appropriately deal with assault becoming mandatory for all security companies. We’re raising awareness of the issue and providing a safe space for people to discuss it as well.

How common is groping or sexual assault at concerts?

It’s very very common. Every day we’re inundated with stories of what’s happened to people at gigs. I think with the campaign we’re doing a really important thing just by telling people that this goes on because a lot of people don’t know or don’t know how common it is.

What have been your greatest victories?

The outstanding amount of support we’ve gained! We have over ten thousand followers on twitter now and we’ve justGirlsAgainst hit over £600 raised on our crowdfunder. SecuriGroup – a security company – has also recently added more mandatory training sessions on sexual harassment at a venue in Glasgow for members of their team. It’s actually at the venue where I was assaulted so it’s made me really happy. We’ve also had huge amounts of publicity. We’ve been featured in NME, DIY, The Independent, The Guardian and The Telegraph which are all huge publications in the UK.

Can you tell me about your choice to open the support of your group to all genders?

We recognize that sexual assault at gigs happens to everyone no matter the gender, race, religion, class, or body type etc etc. We just don’t think that it would be very fair if we excluded any gender.

How can bands take action?

Bands can publicly support us on twitter and things like that – if they do it means we can get in contact with them to send them some merch. They can also speak to their security before every show they plan and make sure they’re not ignorant of the issue and are looking out for it as well as other anti social behavior within the crowd. They can also publicly speak out about the issue on other platforms. They have a huge amount of influence which they can do a lot with.

How can individuals take action?

Individuals can show us support on twitter and Facebook and get more involved with the campaign. If they see it happening they can also confront the perpetrator, try and move the victim away from the situation, alert security or the people around you. We’re also always taking submissions for our blog on the issue and other feminist issues which they can email or send to us – we have a great platform and we want to use it to its’ full potential. They can learn more about us here: girlsagainst.tumblr.com/faq

Thanks Girls Against for working to address a form of sexual exploitation!


Articles about other organizations or activists are not meant as endorsements, and their opinions or views do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of NCOSE.

Haley McNamara (Halverson)

Vice President and Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation

Haley McNamara (formerly Halverson) is the Director of the International Centre on Sexual Exploitation in the UK, and a Vice President at the U.S. based National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She leads international efforts and joint campaigns to improve policies and education among global governing bodies, citizenry, and corporations regarding the full web of sexual exploitation issues. Her advocacy work has contributed to policy improvements in social media, online advertising, retail, and hotel industries. She has advocated at the United Nations, led international coalition campaigns, presented to Danish, Croatian, Colombian and Rwandan government officials, and more

She is a former member of the Washington DC Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. This Committee advises DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on the multi-faceted continuum of the District of Columbia’s child welfare services, including prevention, early intervention, treatment, and sources of permanency.

Haley regularly speaks and writes on topics including child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, prostitution, sexual objectification, the exploitation of males, and more. She has presented before officials at the United Nations, as well as at several national symposia before influencers from the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Croatian government officials. She has provided training to Arlington County Child & Family Services on the social media grooming, recruitment, and advertising for sex trafficking. She has a Master of Arts in Government from Johns Hopkins University where she received honors for her thesis regarding the online commercial sexual exploitation marketplace.

Previously, Haley served for two years as Director of Communications for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation where she oversaw strategic messaging development, press outreach, email marketing, and social media marketing.

Prior to working at NCOSE, Haley wrote for a cultural media outlet. Haley graduated from Hillsdale College (summa cum laude) with a double major, and conducted a senior thesis on the abolitionist argument regarding prostitution. During her studies, she studied abroad at Oxford University and established a background in policy research through several internships in the DC area.

Haley has appeared on, or been quoted in, several outlets including the New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, BBC News, New York Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Voice of America, Dr. Drew Midday Live, The DeMaio Report, the New York Daily News, the Washington Examiner, USA Radio Network, the Washington Times, CBC News, The Rod Arquette Show, The Detroit News, Lifezette, The Christian Post, Lifeline with Neil Boron, EWTN News Nightly, KCBS San Francisco Radio, LifeSiteNews, The Drew Mariano Show on Relevant Radio, News Talk KGVO, and American Family News.

She has written op-eds for the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, FoxNews.com, Washington Examiner, Townhall.com, Darling Magazine, the Daytona-Beach News Journal, and has been published in the Journal of Internet Law and the journal Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and ViolenceShe has also contributed to a digital middle school curriculum regarding the links between sex trafficking and pornography as well as the public health impacts of sex trafficking.

Further Reading