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Denim With a Purpose

By: Kyle Ennis

On Wednesday April 24, millions of people around the world celebrated Denim Day. On Denim Day, people are encouraged to wear any article of clothing comprised of denim to raise awareness for victims of rape and sexual assault.

Peace Over Violence, a non-profit organization, organized the day after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because “the victim was wearing tight jeans,” and that “she must’ve helped  the assailant remove her jeans, implying consent.” Peace Over Violence expresses that “the world will wear denim with a purpose” by supporting victims and educating individuals about sexual assault.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Denim Day. Denim Day is held on a Wednesday during April–sexual assault awareness month. Patricia Giggans, founder of the Denim Day organization, says that the organization has been hearing stories and seeing action being done by victims and advocates against rape and sexual assault for over 20 years. Peace Over Violence started as a small movement in Los Angeles, California and quickly became a worldwide organization for change.

The Denim Day movement began in Italy in the year 1992, when an 18 year old girl was raped by her 45 year old driving instructor during their first driving lesson. The man was prosecuted and arrested. Years later, the man was acquitted on account of the girl’s clothing–specifically her tight jeans. The women of the Italian parliament were furious and began protesting by wearing jeans to every political event and meeting until the decision was changed. This ultimately led to the change the severity of the punishment for sexual assault, changing it from a moral offense to a criminal felony.

Colleges and universities around the world show awareness of Denim Day by encouraging students to wear jeans and hosting events on that day.