April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and Wednesday, April 27th is Denim Day.
Denim Day not only brings awareness to sexual violence, but also encourages our community to stand in support of and in solidarity with survivors—and victims—of sexual violence.
It is also a day that challenges the pervasive culture of victim blaming.
The Denim Day movement started as a grassroots response to the rape of an Italian teen in the 1990s. The perpetrator was her driving instructor—an adult male in a position of power. This Italian teenager took her rapist to court and won the case. The conviction was later overturned on the grounds that she was wearing jeans that were so tight that she must have helped remove them, thereby implying consent.
‘jeans cannot be removed easily and certainly it is impossible to pull them off if the victim is fighting against her attacker with all her force.’ –Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome, The New York TimesThe following day, the female members of the Italian parliament ditched traditional workday attire and donned jeans.
This is a dynamic common in sexual assaults: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be the victims of a sexual assault in their lifetime. The majority of these victims will know and trust their assailants.*
This same dynamic of victim blaming remains persistent in our society. Every time someone asks what a victim was wearing, how much they had to drink, or why they accepted a ride home they are being re-victimized by being blamed for their own assault.
Denim Day has been an international day of awareness for the past 17 years. We ask you to stand in support and solidarity with victims of sexual violence not just on April 27th, but every day.
For more information please check out the Denim Day website.
*The UT Sexual Assault Prevalence study published in August of 2015 cites 70% of Sexual Assaults are committed by a perpetrator known or related to the victim.