A young woman who attended Lahore's Solis Festival recounts molestation, sexual assault

A young woman who attended Lahore's Solis Festival recounts molestation, sexual assault

She says around a gang of 30 men molested and tried to undress her
Updated 18 Apr, 2019

A young woman who attended Solis Festival, a music and arts fest held at Lahore's Oasis Golf & Aqua Resort on April 13, has alleged that she was sexually assaulted at the event.

The woman named Lila took to Instagram to share her and her sister's ordeal of being attacked by scores of men who molested and tried to undress them.

She has asked for accountability from the event organisers, whom she identifies as Full Circle Agency, and the event security company SSB Bouncers. Full Circle Agency has yet to respond, while the security company SSB Bouncers has issued a response on Instagram. The organisers of the Solis Festival have spoken to Images, and say they are investigating the incident.

Lila began her account 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."

But the harassment escalated very quickly, she says.

"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 shares, "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."

She says that when she stressed to her friend that it was the guard who had harassed her, he confronted the guard again who asked both to step to the side.

"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."

She added that her sister was dealing with a harasser at another part of the venue but came to her aid when she saw she was in trouble. She claims both sisters were molested by the crowd then.

"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]."

She added that she and her sister's friends tried to shield them with their bodies while other friends fought with the crowd who tried to isolate the women from their friends. She estimates that the crowd of harassers consisted of about 30 men aged 30 years and above.

"I tried self defence, I tried hitting them, but there were too many of them. The guys who were holding on to my sister and me were being hit so much, the crowd wanted to tear them away from us. You could see hatred in their eyes. It was a proper mob attack.

"Their intention was much worse than touching and feeling two girls. The way they were aggressively trying to pull our pants down, also hitting us too, it was quite obvious what they wanted to do," Khan says.

Lila recounts that her sister fainted, at which point she realised that she had to get out of the crowd.

"I put my head down, I put my arm out and hit everyone I possibly could. I ran at full speed just to get out of the crowd. It seemed like it was neverending. It seemed like I was stuck in one place. It seemed like I was so vulnerable and there was nothing I could do."

As she fought her way out, her friend went in and brought her sister out too, she says.

"I instantly threw up. I felt so disgusted with the people who did it and with myself. I'm so embarrassed. My friends tried to tell other security guards, they said there was nothing they could do. [They said] you have to talk to the heads about it."

Lila shared that when she first posted about her experience, a lot of women told her that other security guards and male attendees harassed them too.

In her video, Lila expressed her disappointment at the state of security at the event. "First, stags shouldn't have been allowed. Second, the security should have been proper. The Solis team didn't not have proper security, which is very bad. It was a guard who initiated the [mob attack] on me and my friends."

She added, "I want the DJs to know who they were playing for. Because if I was a DJ I definitely wouldn't want to play for a crowd like that."

She stressed to her female viewers her opinion that women aren't safe in any public space in Pakistan and that they should not go anywhere alone.

She says she decided to speak up "because everyone already knows what happened but not exactly the whole story".

"I don't want to feel embarrassed about it even though I do and it sucks. I don't want [harassment, sexual assault] to be such a normal thing. It's been three days since it happened, it already feels like it's my fault, I already feel like it's a normal thing, which is so sad. I don't want it to feel like that. I want other girls to be careful and know that it does happen and that they're not alone."

The Solis Festival was pegged as "Pakistan’s biggest international music festival ever" and featured international musicians and DJs such as FDVM and Burak Yeter.

Speaking to Images, the Solis Festival organiser clarifies: "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."

He adds: "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?"

In response to Lila's story SSB Bouncers, the company that was handling security for the festival, has questioned her claims, saying "if that 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."

Incidents of harassment at concerts and musical events in Pakistan have been called out before. In 2017 a woman was harassed at an Atif Aslam concert in Karachi, after spotting the harassment the singer stopped his show to make sure she was safe.

This is a developing story.


Abuzar Apr 18, 2019 01:21pm
Such harrasments always happen in concerts and other arenas. it will never end, ,,
abdullah Apr 18, 2019 01:24pm
The organizers and the security agency should be fined a huge amount and all the attendees who molested these ladies should be behind bars......what a sad state of affairs......shame on the men who did that...
#MeToo Apr 18, 2019 01:26pm
"She stressed to her female viewers her opinion that women aren't safe in any public space in Pakistan and that they should not go anywhere alone. " Truer words have never been spoken.
aslam khan Apr 18, 2019 01:35pm
PM needs to educate this nation first before inviting tourists from around the world.
Shah Apr 18, 2019 01:40pm
The Security Bouncer agency should be black listed so others take their responsibility seriously,as far as the frustrated males are concerned what can one say to those who leave their females locked in side houses and come out as predators and behave in such disgust full way.feel so bad for the girls and would like to apologize to them on behalf of my gender.
M. Saeed Apr 18, 2019 01:41pm
In such concerts, most of the people go,not for the concert but for doing their enjoyments in harassing females who are alone and unprotected.
Fahad Apr 18, 2019 01:44pm
Please avoid going to such places. Coz this thing will never stop and it never has around the world.
Jawaid Islam Apr 18, 2019 01:53pm
A disgrace! Pakistani males doing this should be behind bars...
chengez k Apr 18, 2019 02:05pm
Families only invitation works in Pakistan !!!!
M. Emad Apr 18, 2019 02:09pm
Over 70% Pakistani working women experience sexual harassment at workplace.
atindra Apr 18, 2019 02:36pm
these things are pretty much common in pakistan
Shubha (India) Apr 18, 2019 02:38pm
I'm sorry for lila she had to go through such an incident, and respect her courage to calling out these goons for what they are.
Liaquat Thaheem Apr 18, 2019 02:40pm
Horrific...very disgusting indeed.
Saif Zulfiqar Apr 18, 2019 02:42pm
The Entertainment Industries in the world ar all involved about these things. But police should take serious criminal actions agains the organisers and the peole who were involved in these shameful actions.,
Alright Apr 18, 2019 03:09pm
To those saying the police only responded because we were dealing with a Canadian model, you need to pay more attention to the way she handled the situation. She not only took the right steps to evade her predators and collected actionable evidence, she also used the right channels to bring the incident to the attention of police AND media. The incident shows that in this country if you take the right measures, you can get justice. As she mentioned, bad people exist in all societies.
Vijay Kumar Apr 18, 2019 03:13pm
Ladies should avoid going to crowded places.
Jamal Apr 18, 2019 03:19pm
Really sorry for the lady, brave of her to come out and share her story. She should raise the issue to higher level and file a harassment complaint against the organizers
AI Apr 18, 2019 03:30pm
It is bound to happen in mix gatherings. You don't know the intention of people. Better to stay away and stay safe.
Anon Apr 18, 2019 03:37pm
@M. Emad Saudis should be consulted as to what is the 'remedy'
Bilal Apr 18, 2019 03:48pm
Sad to hear her story. This is Pakistan where mobs turn ugly in seconds. Be it a traffic accident, slight hint of blasphemy or cases like this. This kind of situation could have developed anywhere in the world, even with a lady covered head to toe in a burqa. Please be careful .
Wali Apr 18, 2019 03:55pm
@M. Emad what is the figure in Bangladesh. May be 90%.
Faheem Apr 18, 2019 04:21pm
i am just thinking that this kind of behavior is coming from so called elite class, the most educated boys then what can you expect from illiterate people.. is this what these most expensive schools teaching to our youth? its a big question mark. Authorities should take serious action to make it an example. its seriously so disturbing to see our ppl behaving like this.. In Pakistan more richer ppl, so called educated are being threats to common man bcz of their power and money.
Kinza Apr 18, 2019 04:23pm
Been to scores of concerts. Never had such an experience. Just avoid being surrounded by large groups when alone especially when you already notice very large number of men. Concerts in the west are notorious for such incidents too unfortunately.
Iqbal bhai Apr 18, 2019 04:30pm
Were there any CCTV cameras? If yes, the footage should help. If no, then there is a graver security lapse than the current situation.
say it Apr 18, 2019 04:52pm
the organisers should trust the events reported and take the issue seriously!! Security should be reviewed and improved, perhaps cctv camera's should cover the venue in future so that proper evidence can be recorded and the offenders punished.
Rizwan Apr 18, 2019 05:19pm
@Abuzar yeah this will happen every time
Preface Apr 18, 2019 05:38pm
To keep women safe at public events in Pakistan, segregation of genders is the only viable solution.
Zulfiqar Apr 18, 2019 05:42pm
These types of concerts will never be safe for women. It’s a cultural thing. Events should be held according to cultural norms. It’s better to have men and women enclosures to ensure safety for both. As a society we have not reached that point where western style concerts can be held incident free. Maybe ok for smaller crowds but not for large concerts.
Moby Moby Apr 18, 2019 05:46pm
No CCTV? That in and of itself is a big lapse of security.
Shahid Fakhruddin Apr 18, 2019 06:04pm
We all have daughters and sisters.I am ashamed to read the ordeal of two girls.
Syed Apr 18, 2019 06:20pm
What do u expect happens in these concerts?
Omair Apr 18, 2019 06:33pm
@Vijay Kumar no sir the men at crowded places should behave.
Farhan saeed Apr 18, 2019 07:58pm
You shouldnot go there.
RationalBabu Apr 18, 2019 09:01pm
@Fahad, it’s extremely rare around the world, please don’t try to trivialise this!
RationalBabu Apr 18, 2019 09:07pm
@Syed, people go there to enjoy the music and have a good time., not to harass the females. That’s what happens in concerts all over the world.
Zulfiqar Apr 18, 2019 09:28pm
@Faheem in Pakistan the term education gets confused with acquiring degrees. Most institutions are ill equipped to provide education in the real sense of the word. Real education works as much on building character, harnessing critical thought and increasing emotional intelligence as it does towards achieving a certificate.
Gordon D. Walker Apr 18, 2019 09:41pm
Shameful... Gordon D. Walker Canada
RACHEL IQBAL Apr 18, 2019 10:39pm
Harassment is taking place everywhere including in the first world nation's. I would say avoid going to places like this one
Altaf Noor Ali Apr 18, 2019 10:48pm
I feel so ashamed that there was no one to protect the ladies. Those who attempted this shameful act will never understand that the womenfolk in their families are as vulnerable as those ladies.
Azam Apr 19, 2019 01:27am
Pakistanis are sexually desperate, no co-education, a closed hypocrite society, it needs at least 100 years to civilize.
Dr. Rafiq Khan Apr 19, 2019 01:47am
Congratulations Pakistan. Naya Pakistan, nayi taleem, naye kapray, nayi kitabay purani harkatain.
Sameer Apr 19, 2019 04:24am
One must take Suo moto notice of such incidents. First, why arent such gatherings secured? 2nd, where is the cctv footage? It can help either corroborate Lila's account or assist with legal action against falsifying the incidnent.
Ahsan Gul Apr 19, 2019 05:19am
@aslam khan - PM on this PM on that needs to do that? What is that. My friend education starts at home. With the strict laws application we can change the grown up few rotten people but for the coming generation parents have to take a lead. Both sexes must be taught to respect each other’s at early stages of their lives. Girls need to be taught to dress up modestly.
ansa Apr 19, 2019 05:41am
This is terrible. The organizers must be fined and the fake security guards must be arrested.
Anum Apr 19, 2019 05:58am
The organizers and the security will ofcourse blame others instead of themselves. Victim blaming is a also common tactic men play against women. It's a horrific incident and it needs to be put at notice. Likewise, serious legal action should be taken against the authorities that were responsible to maintain order at the event. Besides that it such a pity that men of this society have still not learned to respect women.
syed Apr 19, 2019 06:27am
Such a terrible terrible situatin to be in. Now watch everyone will be focusing on victim blaming and none on bringing the perpetrators to justice. Very sad.
Anjali Apr 19, 2019 07:19am
The suggestion that single men should not be allowed in such festivals is a good one. Men should only be allowed if they are a couple or a part of a group which includes at least one woman. This will pretty much eliminate this behaviour.
Asif Apr 19, 2019 07:36am
how cruel and inhumane. It is really next to impossible to change the mindset of common people in such societies but the truth is that law is inactive, education is faulty, state is selfish and irresponsible and people are morbid specially towards women. The real solution lies only in one thing which has not stared yet and that is to educate male child right from the childhood to respect every other woman known or unknown. MOthers and sisters must condemn at every cost if their sons and brothers show disrespect or get involved in such hineous acts. They have to focus upon it to get their male punished severely . Most of th etime mothers that means women never believe if their sons are involved in such things and without any evidence they would surely first of all blame the woman or women that they would be responsible . This sort of mindset has to be changed at the very first step. Sexondly, the women organisations and parliamentarians must become focused aggressively to get some strict laws for stopping such evil acts. But they remain mostly inactive. Media has also to play a very strong role to educate everyone . But of no avail, just after a few days, a new incident would occur and every thing will be going on as such.
NH Apr 19, 2019 08:30am
I am ashamed, disgusted & angry to be a Pakistani male.
Arsha Apr 19, 2019 08:50am
@Kinza does not happen this way in West. Yes there are incidents of grabbing and molestation but usually most other guys around would not participate and would instead help you in such a situation. Secondly the crowds would not be so skewed towards men only....there will be as many women. Thirdly such incidents are definitely not as common that they deter women from going out alone.
Arsha Apr 19, 2019 08:55am
@Zulfiqar so true though that kind of education starts at home. When kids see gender disparities in their own home they internalize the same behavior. When a father is disrespectful to mother, the kids learn those same dynamics. Then the emphasis on teaching gender equality or critical thinking or individual space tends to be minimal in home environment
M. Kamran Apr 19, 2019 10:21am
I feel so sad about what has happened. I wish we all should stop calling ourselves as literate because what she mentioned all the groping and harassment just makes me vomit. When are we going to learn and behave??
Anonymouseee Apr 19, 2019 11:31am
I take my wife and kids to concerts that are only privately held in under DHA supervision.
Vikas Apr 19, 2019 11:48am
.... and not one arrest till now ??
Janjua Apr 19, 2019 12:00pm
Chief of security company along with his staff be ripped of their arms licenses for ever.
khany Apr 19, 2019 12:39pm
Women are scared to shop alone in Pakistan. Very less women be shopping due to the dirty staring by men. This fear should stop only if Imran Khan did something about it.
Jeena Apr 19, 2019 01:48pm
This is such a shame for the management. The organizers should not only apologize, but also take measures to find these men and security guards as the lady says she can recognize the man. There should ALWAYS consequences to any crime so that turds like these men at the concert can never get away with monstrous behavior like this! Concerts are for men and women- people who have a problem with that are the ones who should not attend such events! And kudos to the young girl who dared to complain against it than hide away. Many people weren't ever punished for their crime because people tend to hide such kind of abuse. I am so proud of this girl who actually dared to report the whole event.
Miqbal Apr 19, 2019 05:01pm
We Pakistani are worst than animals in real fron top to bottom
Miqbal Apr 19, 2019 05:02pm
@aslam khan these animals cannot br trained
Miqbal Apr 19, 2019 05:13pm
Only males with families shall be allow as all others without families are not given girls in their marriages duI to their character not earning.not good family. Not educated. And so on worst than streets dogs.these dogs has nothing to 1942 in Japan these types of people were send to labour camp for free work to be done for country that where now Japan stand
Hafsa Iqbal Apr 19, 2019 07:13pm
@Kinza What an ignorant comment! If it didn't happen to you , consider yourself lucky and do not try to downplay the ordeal faced by these women. And no, it does not make it ok if similar incidents happen in the West too. Harassment and abuse can never be justified
Indie Guy Apr 19, 2019 07:30pm
It is cultural and moral bankruptcy and lack of security or consequences that causes these assaults. These same men have sisters and mothers at home, but don’t see any problem in assaulting other women. For this reason women in South Asia have to be very careful. It is very sad in this 21st century.
Never mind the name Apr 19, 2019 08:20pm
The lady forgot that there is a reason for Muslims women to go out in burqa only, the Muslim men.
Iqbal Zaman Khan Apr 20, 2019 01:04am
So sad and disgusting
Abdulbaqi Apr 20, 2019 02:59am
This whole issue need to be exploited through social media outlets and other news outlets to bring this attention to higher authorities. This may happen again and again unless there strict rules to follow in such public events/gathering. This is just so sick that administration does not do much after something happen like this.
Zak Apr 20, 2019 03:08am
The cctv should catch the men involved and file case. Send them to jail for 10 years.
Laila Apr 20, 2019 03:21am
This was most likely planned by the security guard. But even if not, this is horrific just reading about.It angers me. This is the state of our Muslim country. Every decent man should have fought against those 30 people. You were there, saw it and heard their screams. Why did you not step up? So I guess the time has come for females to carry tazers and pepper sprays. Thats really the only safety I can think of.
Harambe Apr 20, 2019 04:16am
@Wali: Please stay focussed on the issues--harassment at concerts. Bangladesh is nOT the issue and neither I a poster's origin! You must be new to forums, yes?
Blaaaaa Apr 20, 2019 04:41am
@Vijay Kumar No, women shouldn't stop going to concerts. Men should stop harassing and assaulting women.
Blaaaaa Apr 20, 2019 04:44am
@RACHEL IQBAL How about men stop harrassing and assaulting women for a change?
Facebook Warrior Apr 20, 2019 02:45pm
Unfortunately that is what always happens in all the musical festivals or any public space for that matter in Pakistan. Even if you go to a market and have male companions the sexual predators will try to feel you or grope you at any possible opportunity. The conscientious male members of our society should speak up and act up when they see such a thing. Dont wait for the female to shout for help.
Laila Apr 21, 2019 04:43am
@Facebook Warrior You are not the first to point that this happens in public everywhere in Pakistan. That much is true. Sexual harassment in Pakistan is rampant and we have been conditioned to accept it and be silent about it. I was told by women passing by that this happens and I should just go about my business instead of creating a fuss. They meant it kindly. I had confronted the guy who harassed me and the entire bazar gathered with all men. They looked and talked but nobody came to my help or sought to protect me. My point is this should not be accepted, or normalized. This is NOT ok. By not confronting this and not stopping this we are normalizing this. I ask all the REAL PAKISTANI MEN to stand up and protect a female whenever this happen. Come to her aid. Show you are her Brother in humanity and faith. Thats all it takes for evil to stop. ACT. Dont just watch. Dont let us fight this alone. Be our voice.
malaysharma Apr 21, 2019 06:52am
The problem. Starts at Home Parents. Give undue attention to male child Treat daughters badly The young male learns it as an acceptable norm. And this he keeps observing and accepting as a norm during his learning years When he becomes adult he has an attitude which is hard to change. The parents and the society have to be educated All progressive societies have female work force contributing to country’s success story
Saad Khan Apr 22, 2019 01:22pm
Astaghfirrallah, sad to read and know this, really pathetic as a nation that what our young male generation is doing, no religious or human ethics? from where they have learned it? I think mainly this is happening in Lahore? never experienced this anywhere else? Guys please grow up, respect other ladies as your own ladies. Always remember we are Muslims and Pakistanis, we need to carry ourselves as exemplary.