Leading campaigners and charities against domestic abuse have spoken of their concern after Chris Brown was booked for Wireless Festival this summer.
The singer will make his first UK festival appearances in twelve years, playing shows at Crystal Palace in London on July 1, and in Birmingham on July 9.
Now, the booking has faced fresh criticism from charities including Women’s Aid. Brown was convicted of assaulting Rihanna in 2009, which resulted in a subsequent ban from the UK.
Since that initial incident, Brown’s career has been marred by legal issues. In 2017, Brown’s ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran was awarded a restraining order against him after Tran alleged he told close friends that he was planning to kill her. At the time, Tran also claimed he punched her in the stomach twice and pushed her down a set of stairs.
A lawsuit was also brought against Brown in 2018 when a woman identified only as Jane Doe alleged she was raped by another guest at a party hosted by the singer. She filed a lawsuit the following year, with a dismissal occurring in 2020 when Brown settled out of court.
Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, a spokesperson for Women’s Aid said: “When a performer is known to be a serial perpetrator of domestic abuse, and they are then on stage being adored by an audience at an event, it sends out a clear message to other women who have been abused by a partner – it isn’t that serious.
“Singers are often role models to many people and even years on, without accepting responsibility for past actions, changing behaviour, and being fully accountable for the harm done, it sends a dangerous message to fans.
“If we’re ever going to reduce domestic abuse in the future, which affects an estimated 1.6 million women in England and Wales alone, we all need to step up and think about the role we have to play in terms of responding to domestic abuse and the sexist attitudes that often underpin it.”
It is unknown when Brown’s ban from the UK was lifted, but he was most recently seen in the country as a special guest during O2 Arena shows from Afrobeats star WizKid last year.
The decision to book Brown was also criticised by Shana Begum, a domestic abuse survivor who is now a leading campaigner.
“As a victim of domestic abuse and someone working in the sector, it does depend on whether he has changed,” she said.
“Because I do believe in second chances if someone has done the work. But if Wireless hasn’t done the vetting process and allowed him to sing because he’s a superstar then that is a huge issue.”
Brown initially apologised for the 2009 attack on Rihanna, but has rarely addressed it since.
Begum added: “If Wireless say it’s not their job to do the vetting then that is a huge concern too. What they are doing then is sending the wrong message to young people who listen to his music and idolise it.
“I know Wireless want people to perform so they can sell tickets, but there is a social and ethical responsibility that I feel Wireless is ignoring if they haven’t vetted him.
“What message are we sending is the first thing I’d say to Wireless. What’s the wider implication of that? Where is the accountability of organisations making decisions. That would be my stance.”
The announcement of Brown also faced fresh criticism online yesterday.
“I’m actually fuming that Chris brown has been announced for Wireless, the man is an ABUSER, how has he been allowed to continue on this level??? He shouldn’t be given this platform,” wrote one fan on Twitter.
Another said: “Chris Brown is trending for being booked at Wireless? I will never forgive or forget, and they should be embarrassed they booked an abuser.”
Rolling Stone UK has contacted Chris Brown’s representatives and Wireless Festival for comment.
You can contact the UK domestic abuse hotline on 0808 2000 247, while an extensive list of domestic abuse charities can be found here.