Entertainment

AlunaGeorge singer details sexual assault by industry figure

Aluna Francis from AlunaGeorgeImage copyright Robin Marchant
Image caption Francis called the music industry “an unmonitored, unregulated cesspit of bad behaviour”

Aluna Francis has spoken for the first time about being sexually assaulted by someone in the music industry.

She told BBC podcast The Next Episode that the man forced his hands into her underwear, undressed and tried to coerce her into performing oral sex.

“It was like I was in a room with a completely different person,” said the AlunaGeorge singer. “His behaviour went from nought to a hundred.”

She has not disclosed the name of her alleged attacker.

Francis, whose dance duo scored several top 40 singles and were runners-up on the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list, said she had been working on a song with the music professional when the alleged attack took place in a hotel room.

“I was like, ‘All right mate, calm down. Take your hands out of my pants please’,” she said.

Despite her appeals, her alleged attacker’s behaviour escalated.

“The last thing that was happening before I really got myself out of there is that he pinned me down and he’d taken his trousers down.”

Francis said she had to “wrestle him off” to get away.

“I thought that I was okay and I’m just so not,” she said.

The musician has addressed sexual misconduct previously, in her track Mean What I Mean but has never shared details of the attack, which she did not report to police.

Francis told the BBC podcast that the music business, “is living in the past, an unmonitored, unregulated cesspit of bad behaviour”.

“If a woman wants to stay safe, it’s literally down to her to take care of that and navigate choices of whether to take a risk for her career or stay safe and miss out on opportunities.”

Other British musicians have come forward and spoken to The Next Episode about their experiences, including Rebecca Taylor who performs under the name Self Esteem and will be appearing at Glastonbury next week.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Taylor is now a solo artist and performs as Self Esteem

Taylor, who was formerly in the band Slow Club, said she was sexually harassed by a record label boss.

“It’s a label that my then-band really wanted to be on,” she said, alleging the incident took place on a night out.

“He grabbed my vagina and said, “Am I going to have a good time?” she added.

Taylor did not disclose the experience to her bandmates at the time.

“I didn’t say anything,” she explained. “I really still wanted to be on that label and I wasn’t just representing myself, I was representing my whole band.”

Like Francis, Taylor has not named the alleged perpetrator. “I don’t have the financial success to name someone who would take everything from me,” she said.

While the Me Too movement – in which women have come forward with their experiences of sexual assault – has seen allegations taken to court in the film industry, Francis does not believe there has been any significant impact in the music industry.

Image caption Rebecca Taylor and Chloe Howl were talking on the first in a series of podcasts looking into sexual misconduct in the music industry

“The Me Too movement barely touched the music industry,” she said.

Brit Awards nominee Chloe Howl told the BBC podcast she was also sexually harassed by someone who worked in the music industry.

“I think until we start valuing the women or the vulnerable people within the music industry… who have been victimised… it’s going to be really tricky,” she said.

She added she had taken strength from other women sharing their stories.

“I kind of found my voice a little bit more,” she explained. “I was able to have a huge go at the last person who did it.”

“But still it feels like it’s women who are having to crusade and educate people about the oppression that they suffer.”

Listen to The Next Episode on BBC Sounds.

This is the first in a series of podcasts looking into sexual misconduct allegations in the music industry. If you have been affected and would like to share your story, please get in touch at thenextepisode@bbc.co.uk or on WhatsApp at 07568 608 295.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-48698283

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