Sexual assault and abuse in the music industry is rife, with instances of rape going unreported through victim’s fear of speaking out, according to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire news program.
In a special report entitled The Dark Side of the Music Industry, broadcast Monday (Dec 18) in the U.K., the program spoke to a number of female artists, managers and executives who shared their personal experiences of “dangerous men” regularly abusing their power.
One of the people interviewed in the program was British singer-songwriter Chloe Howl, who said that she knew of “girls who’ve been raped — and it’s always a man in power and a girl on the rise who needs as much support as possible, whose career hasn’t started yet.”
“I know that there are men who are getting away with it. They are given this untouchable power,” Howl stated. The singer, who was shortlisted for the Brit Awards 2014 Critics’ Choice Award (won by Sam Smith) and formerly signed to the U.K. arm of Sony Music, said that she too felt she had been exploited by men at the start of her career.
“I did have someone come on to me in a pretty strong way,” Howl told the BBC. “He would drop me off at my hotel, and then text to say, ‘Why didn’t you invite me in?’ I remember one night he grabbed my bum and said something along the lines of, ‘I feel like we’d have really good times in the sack,'” she recalled.
Also speaking out was Michelle de Vries, who told the program that she resigned from her role with a “major music company” after being subjected to repeated sexual assaults by a “senior colleague.”
The unnamed executive — who is still working in the industry, according to de Vries — would “walk into my room with no clothes on … masturbate in front of me and say, ‘I know you really like it,'” she said, adding that experience made her feel “like a sex slave.”
She went on to describe once being summoned to the man’s office with a female colleague where he exposed himself and asked for a threesome.
“We went to a lawyer and were categorically told that he had committed a serious crime. But the lawyer said, ‘If you report this, you will never work in the industry again,'” recalled de Vries.
Other contributors to the program included music manager Yasmin Lajoie and an aspiring singer-songwriter who detailed being “groomed” by her manager from the age of 15.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a woman working in the industry today who’s never been a victim of sexual harassment or abuse,” warned Lajoie, who said that the problem was “endemic” throughout the industry.
She described hearing “stories of rape happening on company property, men insisting on oral sex from young women, men seriously assaulting women, raping them in apartments owned by major music companies.”
“I am angry and things need to change,” Lajoie told the BBC.