In 1997 an 18-year-old Italian girl was sexually assaulted by her 45 year old driving instructor. She pressed charges. The perpetrator was convicted of rape and sentenced to prison. However, he appealed the case to the Italian Supreme Court where it was overturned. The reasoning behind the judges overturning this case – the victim wore tight jeans, so she must have helped to take them off, and in doing so, it was no longer considered rape.
Unfortunately, many of the victim-blaming attitudes held by the Italian Supreme Court exist in our own community today. Survivors of sexual assault deserve support and assistance, not shame and blame.
As a response to the court decision in Italy, Denim Day has become an international symbol of protest against harmful attitudes towards sexual assault.
April 24 is this year’s Denim Day. We are asked everyone — neighbors, businesses, employees, clinic staff, elected officials, and students — to host their own Denim Day (it doesn’t have to be on the 24th) and wear jeans. By wearing your denim, you will help raise awareness about sexual assault myths, and you will show survivors you know their assault was not their fault.
By rallying on Denim Day:
- More survivors of sexual assault feel confident to reach out and find help.
- Prevention is promoted so that sexual assault does not occur in the first place.
- Men and boys are encouraged to understand their critical role in preventing violence against women.
- Social change is at work.
The more people who join the rally against sexual violence, the louder the statement, and the greater the social change.
Here are some things you can do:
- Hang posters to promote Denim Day at your workplace or club
- Get others to pledge to wear denim
- Wear “Ask me why I’m wearing jeans” sticker*
- Talk about the Italian girl’s story and why social change is needed
- Host additional Denim Days throughout the year
- Call Kristi V. at the Resource Center for help planning your event
- Bring in a speaker* to learn more about the impact of sexual violence
- Create a school library display highlighting sexual assault awareness
- Hang posters* around the school that challenge the myths about sexual assault
- Encourage your school/work newsletter to publish articles
- Cut out pieces of denim or paper in the shape of jeans and invite students, employees and faculty to write supportive messages on them, and then display them
- Do a “change for change” fundraiser on Denim Day
Together we can bring an end to sexual violence.
* Available from the Resource Center. Call 1-800-383-2988.