Fort Irwin,CA – On Monday (April 17) more than 3,000 Fort Irwin soldiers, family members and civilians wore denim jeans and teal-colored shirts as symbols to oppose sexual oppression and to support Denim Day, an international campaign promoting awareness of sexual assault and harassment.
The observation of Denim Day campaign by the Peace Over Violence runs in April in honor of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. US President Donald Trump has proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. This year’s theme is “Engaging New Voices,” according to the White House.
The campaign was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.
This ruling sparked widespread protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.” As a sign of support, the California Senate and Assembly followed suit. Soon Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, (now Peace Over Violence) made Denim Day an annual event. As of 2011 at least 20 US states officially recognize Denim Day in April.
Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign the organizers ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. This year’s Denim Day is April 26, 2017.
In 2008 the Italian Supreme Court overturned their ruling, and there is no longer a “denim” defense to the charge of rape.