As our organization gears up for Denim Day, an annual sexual assault prevention campaign, I would like to share with you why this day is so special and why it affects our community. Did you know in 2017 there were 1,051 911 calls for service related to sexual assault including lewd conduct, rape and sexual assault in Ada County (Ada County Sheriff’s Office, 2018)? That’s nearly 3 calls a day. And nationally, every 98 seconds someone is sexually assaulted (Department of Justice, 2015).
These statistics might leave one feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to help end such a pervasive issue. That’s where Denim Day comes in.
What is Denim Day?
In the late 90’s an 18-year-old Italian girl was sexually assaulted by her 45-year-old male driving instructor. While he was initially convicted of the crime and sent to prison, the ruling was later overturned by the Italian Supreme Court because the justices felt that because the victim wore tight jeans, she must have helped remove them thereby making the act consensual.
The following day the women of the Italian Legislature wore jeans to work in an act of protest. This display demonstrated a sense of compassion and solidarity not only with the young woman, but with all survivors of sexual assault.
And as news of the decision spread, so did the protests. These protests sparked what is now known as Denim Day. The simple act of wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
While we must work every day as a community to end sexual assault, Denim Day is a great place to start the conversation. This year Denim Day is on April 25th. You can wear denim or, if jeans are not an option in your work environment, wear a “Ask Me About Denim Day” sticker, denim ribbon or bracelet.
The simplest way to get involved? Have a conversation with the people in your life—friends, family members, coworkers—and share your knowledge about sexual assault. In this way we can all continue to educate ourselves and others, and use our voices to show survivors that they are not alone.
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