Why we Pakistanis are nowhere near ready for a festival like Solis

Solis Musical Festival has been bringing International Artists to Pakistan for a few years now. This year, we saw little clues that all pointed towards the fate the event ended up meeting.

The event tickets went online before the artist line up was even announced. Leading people to ask the question of “Who is even going to be there?”

Secondly, the prices. Tickets ranged from Rupees 4000 all the way up to Rupees 11000 for the VIP Tickets.

There was supposed to be a separate section for women only named the “Pink circle”. This lead women to believe that the event organisers actually valued the safety of women and were rushing to buy those tickets too. But when they got to the event, things weren’t as they first seemed.

The venue chosen was tiny. The PNCA Islamabad outdoor area cannot hold the number of people you expect at a music festival. The road leading up to the venue is also a really small road, incapable of dealing with the massive traffic influx. Parking? Didn’t exist. Attendees had to park at least a whole sector away and walk to the main venue.

At the gates, the checking was non-existent. The tickets were barely looked at and people were let through. The infamous “Pink Circle”, didn’t exist. The event was crashed by hundreds of people with “fake tickets”, the lack of thought in choosing the venue and the lack of proper security meant that everyone was able to waltz right in. Soon, people started to pile up onto the “VIP Stage”, the stage could only safely hold a significant number of people, when the weight exceeded – the stage collapsed.

Chaos followed.

All through the night, we saw more and more stories come out detailing what happened, one of which was by a woman that had paid the 11000 to be in the VIP enclosure.

This woman was heading up into the stage when a man got up in her face and said to her “Idher se dafa hoja warna roti rahey gi poori zindagi ke mere saath kia kya in larkon ne”.
Basically threatening her that she should leave or she’ll be thinking about what these guys do to her for the rest of her life.

She backs away and ends up in the regular circle, even though she had paid more than twice the ticket amount for the safety offered by the VIP tickets.

When the VIP stage collapsed, she was right under it. Her leg was stuck under all the heavy debris and she blacked out- when she regained consciousness she realised that a man had “fallen on top of her” and was just laying there, moving his hands all over her body. She (like anyone else in that situation) Pushed him off of her, kneed him in the genitals and the man finally found it in him to get up off of her.

He then proceeded to laugh at her, called her a “gashti” (Prostitute) and spit on her.

When she finally found her friends she saw that they too were badly injured and needed medical attention, even her male friends were groped.

Another woman shared a similar experience online, detailing how she too was groped and injured, her bag stolen off of her violently, landing her too in the hospital.

Both of these women saw other women being beaten and groped as they went through this traumatic experience themselves.

The organisers issued a statement blaming the people with “fake tickets”. Saying they’ll learn from this and do better next time. The attendees, however, are calling out for refunds.

The trauma several people faced here is something they can’t ever compensate for, but they need to take some responsibility too.

Moreover, trolls on social media went on to blame the women for being there, saying they deserve to be assaulted for attending a concert. Again, no questions asked about the men assaulting, but asking the women who faced the assault why they were there.

Events need to be at venues that can actually house a large number of people.

TICKETS SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY CHECKED. A lot of this mess could’ve been avoided if the tickets were checked properly and people were being turned away.

Lastly, security. When you organise an event you need to provide your attendees with security so they don’t leave with the intense physical and mental trauma that these people faced.

What do you think? Is the Solis organisation team taking an appropriate amount of responsibility for what happened?

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