What is Denim Day?

denim day

** Please know that content in this post may be sensitive to those who may have experienced sexual misconduct or abuse. 

History of Denim Day

In 1992, an 18-year old girl is picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson in Italy.  Instead of learning how to drive, he parks the car on an isolated road and violates her body.  He threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone and with the courage she later told her parents.  There was a trial and conviction of the rapist, however, he appealed the decision.  The sentence of the driving instructor was overturned and dismissed.  The driver was released.  In the highest court, they ruled that the young girl’s jeans were so tight, that he would have needed assistance to have them removed, therefore ruling that the sexual act was no longer rape, but consensual sex.

Women in the Italian Parliament were outraged, as they should be.  In an effort to support the young lady, they began a protest on the steps of the Supreme Court, wearing denim jeans to show solidarity for anyone who may also be in this situation.  It became a national cause when the media aired and California Senators and Assembly supported the cause on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento. The first denim day was held in Los Angeles on April 1999 and has been continuing in the month of April ever since.

“Then came the ‘’denim defense,’’ or what Italian lawmakers are calling the ‘’jeans alibi’’ — a court ruling that suggested that a woman cannot be raped if she is wearing jeans because, the ruling contended, they are impossible to remove unless she helps. That decision — and the country’s reaction to it — has reopened an angry debate about rape and about how judges view sexual assault.

A group of female lawmakers are on an open-ended ‘’jeans strike.’’ They say they will wear jeans to Parliament until the decision is changed. In a kind of media deja vu, Italian newspapers, television and radio talk shows are holding impassioned discussions on a subject that many believed was resolved years ago.”

— https://www.nytimes.com/1999/02/16/world/ruling-on-tight-jeans-and-rape-sets-off-anger-in-italy.html
The idea that women wearing a pair of jeans that are form-fitting or very tight, can not be raped because they would need an assistant to get them off, is absurd. For any woman in this type of situation, your life is literally on the line.  Who’s to say that if your perpetrator tells you to do something such as take off your pants, you wouldn’t do so to save your life?

Denim Day calls for the attention towards sexual violence and not about blaming the victim. If you wish to participate in your community’s Denim Day events, Peace Over Violence has resources, including buttons and information, on organizing a day of solidarity.

 Photo courtesy of https://www.denimdayinfo.org Photo courtesy of https://www.denimdayinfo.org

If you or someone you know have been sexually assaulted, call a crisis hotline, 800-656- HOPE (4673).

Remember that it is not your fault!

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