Trigger Warning: This post does contain details and description of sexual assault
It’s Italy in 1992, an 18 year old girl is picked up for her first driving lesson by her 45 year-old driving instructor. He then proceeds to drive her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of her jeans, and then proceeded to rape her. He gives her death threats if she tells anyone and makes her drive home after the attack.
She ends up telling her parents and they take him to court where he is prosecuted, convicted of rape and sent to jail. However, he appealed. He stated that all sex was consensual and in the car. The case made it all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Here, the case is overturned, dismissed, and the rapist was released. The Chief Judge’s evidence for this decision? He stated, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”
Women of the Italian Parliament were enraged by this injustice (and rightly so) and took action by wearing jeans to work in solidarity for the victim. Women in the California Senate and Assembly heard about this activism and decided to do the same, which made its way to the organization Peace Over Violence and Denim Day was started in April of 1999.
This year Denim Day is Wednesday, April 27.
It’s honestly, one of the easiest ways to spread activism and awareness for sexual assault. Next Wednesday, all you have to do is wear jeans to work, school, or whatever you do during the day. If it is uncommon or “not allowed” for you to wear jeans, that is how you start the dialogue. You explain the history of the event and why ridiculous, delirious, and destructive attitudes, policies, and misconceptions of victim blaming and sexual assault must stop.
This is a protest where you just have to wear jeans.
The ruling and reasoning the Italian Supreme Court made so many years ago is still relevant to today and the misconceptions people still hold about sexual assault. First and foremost, what the victim is wearing has something to do with whether or not they were raped. This is not true. This is bullshit. What a victim is wearing is never an excuse or justification for why sexual intercourse was expected. The first question investigators, police, or school officials ask a victim should never be, “what were you wearing.”
Second idea that stems from this is that judges, police, investigators, or whoever else is not the victim somehow know what really happened in the sexual assault rather than listening to the victim for what actually happened. This idea that her jeans were too tight to take off on his own or maybe in other instances, she was very intoxicated or she had been sexually intimate with him before are not justifications that the rape didn’t happen.
With Sexual Assault Awareness Month coming to a close, I hope discussions and education on sexual assault, cutting down on victim blaming and supporting survivors continues beyond April. Activism and awareness is not a one month job, it is a full time job that lasts until these injustices stop.
So next Wednesday, April 27 wear jeans for Denim Day and help educate and raise awareness around the myths of sexual assault.
For more information on Denim Day on how to get involved, register your own event, sign the pledge, and get awesome resources visit denimdayinfo.org
featured image downloaded from Denim Day Materials