ccording to the latest figures, about half of all rapes that occur are not reported and about one in four women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. While male victims may seem less common, they are less likely to report their victimization due to the stigmatization by society.
In response to these staggering numbers, women and men around the world show their support for these victims through services provided at domestic violence shelters or in the community. These issues are also highlighted in the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is important that as a community we show support for victims so they know that they are safe to report these incidents of sexual violence. That support was shown through student participation in Denim Day and the Take Back the Night Walk on April 24.
Denim Day was created in response to a rape case in the 1990s. In this case, an 18-year-old woman in Italy was raped and the assailant was originally found guilty. The rapist appealed his case until it landed in the Italian Supreme Court where the sentence was overturned. The chief judge’s reasoning for this was “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.” Women around Italy were enraged by this decision and in protest began wearing jeans everywhere they went. All around the world, as news about the rape case spread, women began wearing jeans in support of the protest. (Keep in mind that this occurred in the 90s before jeans were everyday wear for a majority of people, so the protest stood out.) This public outcry was successful, causing the Italian Supreme Court to reverse their decision back to the original conviction of the rapist. Now all around the world on April 24, Denim Day is celebrated as a sexual violence prevention and education campaign.
Since jeans are common wear for most people on campus, the simple act of wearing jeans to show support for this event would not be noticed. In addition to wearing jeans on April 24, buttons saying “Denim Day” and “There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape” were sold for $1 outside of the Jay’s Nest from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. from Monday and Tuesday by the student group Students Advocating for Gender Equality (SAGE), so students could show their support on Denim Day.
A Take Back the Night rally and march were also held the night of Wednesday April 24. All campus members (students, staff, faculty, and administrators) were invited to meet on the BSC Terrace at 8:00 p.m. to gather to march around campus in a protest against sexual violence. We began with a rally in support of sexual assault victims and then opened the floor for comments and testimonials. We then walked around campus to let everyone know that we, as a community, will not stand for violence of any sort on our campus.
For more information about Denim Day, visit denimdayusa.org.