By Lauren Puglisi
For the last 20 years, on a chosen day in the month of April (which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month), millions of people around the world wear denim to raise awareness about rape and sexual assault, challenge misconceptions about consent, and stand in solidarity with survivors.
The campaign was created as a result of a 1998 Italian Supreme Court ruling to overturn a 1992 rape conviction because it was believed that the 18-year-old survivor must have consented because her jeans were seen as too tight for the perpetrator to take off without her help. This became known in Italy as the “jeans alibi.” The day after the decision, women working in the Italian Parliament wore jeans to work as an act of protest and to stand in solidarity with the survivor.
The following year, Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles based organization, launched the Denim Day movement, encouraging people everywhere to wear denim and to spread the message that clothing is never an excuse or invitation to harass or assault. Since then, the movement has been embraced and commemorated annually by students, community members, elected officials, and workers around the world.
We just commemorated Denim Day on Wednesday, April 24th. Although the day has passed this year, we encourage you to join the movement next year and continue calling out myths about sexual assault and victim blaming every day. Together, we can challenge rape culture in our communities and reduce sexual violence.