Denim Day 2019: Facts, History & Must-See Details

As April comes to a close, we send off the month of sexual awareness with the 20th annual Denim Day being held on April 24, 2019! Began in 1999 by Peace Over Violence, Denim Day was instituted in order to raise awareness of occurrences of sexual assault, its victims and their lack of complicity in the acts of violence they have suffered and continue to suffer as the fight against sexual assault waxes on. Denim Day was specifically inspired by an incident that took place in Italy when the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction on the basis of the tightness of the victim’s jeans. This sentiment is familiar to the dismissals of sexual violence committed against women under the premise that, due to the women’s clothing, the women were asking to be victims of the sexual violence they endured.

The Case

It’s 1992 in Italy and an 18-year-old girl is picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor for her very first driving lesson. She is taken by her instructor onto an isolated road where he stops the car. She is pulled out of the car, her jeans forcibly removed, and she is raped. The girl reports the rape and the perpetrator is arrested and found guilty. Years go by and the perpetrator, then in jail, appeals the conviction claiming that the sex they had was consensual. The Italian Supreme Court then implements what is hereby known as the “jeans alibi,” acquitting the perpetrator based off of the conclusion that, because the victim was wearing tight jeans, the perpetrator couldn’t have taken them off without her assistance, making their sex consensual.

Solidarity With Victims

The day following the overturning of the rape case, female members of Parliament walked onto the steps of the Supreme Court wearing jeans as a show of solidarity with the victim who had been failed by the Italian justice system. This protest against the overturning of the victim’s case was picked up by international media outlets, leading the California Senate and Assembly to mimic the protest on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento. Seeing this show of solidarity, the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, thought that everyone should be wearing jeans to protest the myths surrounding rape and other forms of sexual violence. This thought led to the installment of the first Denim Day held in Los Angeles in April of 1999.

The Symbol Of Denim

Since its first establishment in 1999, “wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual harassment, abuse, assault and rape.” Denim Day is not only a day of protest but also an educational campaign targeted toward correcting the misconceptions that continue to surround instances of sexual violence with the hope and end-goal of sexual violence prevention. The founders of Denim Day ask people to participate by making their fashion statements social statements and wearing their denim on April 24th with the intention of protesting heinous acts of sexual violence and redirecting blame onto the perpetrators of those acts rather than the victims. So join the rising number of people registered to wear denim on April 24th and bring Denim Day to your community or check out events happening near you!

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