Denim Day is a rape prevention education campaign, organized by Peace Over Violence, an organization dedicated to preventing sexual violence. This year’s Denim Day was observed last Wednesday.
Denim Day honors an Italian woman who was a victim of sexual violence in the 1990s. In this case, the 18-year-old woman was picked up by her married 45-year-old male driving instructor for her first driver’s lesson. He took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and forcibly raped her. Threatened with death, he forced her to drive home. She told her parents, and they helped her press charges. He was arrested, prosecuted, convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
He appealed his sentence and the case made it to the Italian Supreme Court. The case was overturned, dismissed and the driving instructor was released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “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.”
Enraged by the verdict, within hours the women of the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work. This action encouraged the California Senate and Assembly to do the same. And with this, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence Patricia Giggans began Denim Day in Los Angeles in April 1999. On Denim Day, people are encouraged to “wear jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault,” according to the Denim Day in LA website.
“The case is so outrageous,” said Connie Kirkland, director of Sexual Assault Services at George Mason University. This year was Mason’s third year observing Denim Day. “It’s really about solidarity,” said Kirkland.
Denim Day would have been better promoted at Mason if they had known earlier the specific date of the event, said Kirkland. Sexual Assault Services did have kiosks in the Johnson Center where information about sexual violence was passed out, as Denim Day not only remembers victims of sexual violence but focuses on education and prevention.
Every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
Statistics about rape and sexual assault

82.8 percent of rapes committed by an intimate are not reported to the police.

35 percent of college men who voluntarily participated in psychological research conducted at several universities indicated they might commit a rape if they knew they could get away with it.

Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Most often the abuser is a member of her own family.

20 to 25 percent of college women in the United States experience attempted or completed rape during their college career.

In 2005-2006, there were an average annual 232,010 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.

About 44 percent of rape victims are under age 18 and 80 percent are under age 30.

Statistics taken from