In Italy in 1992, after being taken to an isolated road on her first driving lesson, an 18-year old girl was pulled from the car by her 45-year old driving instructor and raped. He was convicted but appealed saying that the sex was consensual. The rape conviction was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court and he was released. A statement from the court said that because the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her attacker remove them, which implied consent. This line of thinking would become known as the "jeans alibi."
The following day, the women of the Italian Parliament wore jeans in solidarity with the victim and gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court. News of the case and the response spread around the world. In support, members of the California Senate and Assembly gathered on the steps of the Sacramento Capitol. Patricia Giggans, the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, thought that jeans should be worn in protest, not only to show that jeans cannot be used as an alibi but to protest all the myths of why women and girls are raped. So, she created Denim Day. The first event was held in April 1999 in Los Angeles.
The day is used to educate oneself and others about all forms of sexual violence. Solidarity and support are given to survivors on the day by wearing denim and by renewing commitments to exposing harmful behaviors and attitudes dealing with sexual violence. It is held in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. At first, it was a local campaign, but it has since grown into a global movement.
How to Observe Denim Day
Observe the day by wearing jeans as a protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual violence. Stand with survivors by calling out victim-blaming and rape culture, and work to educate yourself and others about sexual violence. The following are some other ways to prepare and participate in the day:
- Register you or your group as participants in the day.
- Have your organization, group, or company endorse Peace Over Violence's campaign to end sexual violence.
- Become a sponsor of the day.
- Raise funds for the day.
- Donate directly to Peace Over Violence in honor of the day. The money supports services for sexual assault survivors and helps keep the cost down for prevention and education materials that are distributed nationally.
- Access this year's Action Kit and posters.
- Pick up some Denim Day gear to wear or display along with your jeans.