PAWS hosts 'Denim Day' event to raise awareness of rape

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Anna Canavan

In 1997 in Rome, Italy, an 18-year-old girl went on her very first driving lesson. She was driven to an isolated street where she was then raped by her married 45-year-old driving instructor, who threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She was brave enough to press charges anyway, and the man was arrested and sentenced to jail for rape.
 
He appealed his sentence. The case went as far as the Italian Supreme Court, where the case was overturned, and the man was released from jail. The judge argued that “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.”
 
Disgusted by the verdict, the women of the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work. News of the case sparked anger globally. Patricia Giggans, the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, was moved to create the first ever Denim Day in April of 1999 in Los Angeles, and the tradition has continued ever since.
 
Wearing jeans on Denim Day is a symbol of protest against the destructive attitudes about sexual violence. In order to raise awareness at Assumption College about sexual violence, Peers Advocating Wellness for Students held our own Denim Day. We got in contact with Dr. Alison Cares, Assistant Professor of Sociology, who helped us to get support from the departments and spread word to the Assumption faculty. The staff and student body jumped on board and wore jeans to support us.
 
On February 26, our declared Denim Day, we set up at the information booth in Hagan. We told the story by setting up a clothesline around the booth and hanging up jeans with the history of Denim Day written across them. We gave out teal ribbons, the color used to represent sexual assault awareness, and magnets with numbers of resources for sexual assault and violence. We also had jeans for people to sign to show their support for preventing sexual violence. By the end of the day, the jeans were filled with signatures of staff and students at Assumption. We loved the support shown by both the students and the faculty and want to thank everyone who helped to make Denim Day a huge success.

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