April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Wednesday, April 27th is Denim Day at the Santa Clarita Domestic Violence Center. Denim Day is a day when women the world over are obliged to wear denim jeans in support of victims of domestic violence.
Denim Day was started by the organization Peace Over Violence as a reaction to a 1999 Italian court ruling and has been held for the past 17-years. It all began back in 1999 when an 18-year-old Italian girl was picked up by her driving instructor for her first lesson. The instructor, a 45-year-old married man, drove the girl to an isolated location and dragged her from the vehicle. He wrestles with the girl until he’s able to get one of her pant legs off, and then proceeded to rape her. Afterward, he threatened to kill her and forced her to drive herself home from the location of the rape.
Upon returning home, the victim told her parents about the crime, and they called the police. Italian police officers investigated the victim’s claims and then arrested the driving instructor. After a relatively short trial, the instructor was found guilty and sentenced to prison. However, the driving instructor appealed his conviction and it ended up before the Italian Supreme Court. After a few days, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the instructor’s conviction on the basis that, because the victim was wearing very tight jeans, she must have had to have given assistance to the instructor in removing them, and so the sex was therefore consensual.
After learning about the verdict, women in the Italian Parliament began to immediately protest by wearing jeans to work. They called for solidarity in their protest, which struck a chord with the State of California Assembly and Senate, who also wore jeans to work. It also inspired Patricia Giggans, head of the Peace Over Violence organization to hold Denim Day in April every year since.
For more information about Sexual Assault Awareness Month and/or Denim Day, contact the Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center.