On Denim Day, which takes place on the last Wednesday in April — April 24 this year — we stand in solidarity with sexual assault survivors and victims. Celebrated every year on the last Wednesday of April, Denim Day started as a campaign against sexual assault apologists. In the summer of 1998 in Italy, an 18-year-old girl was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor. One year later, the perpetrator was released after the court overturned his sentence. He appealed that the girl had had ‘consensual’ sex with him because she was wearing tight jeans that could have only been taken off with her help. The next day, Italian women showed up in jeans to their workplaces as a way to protest the absurdity of the overturned sentence.
History of Denim Day
Denim Day was first celebrated in 1999 when an Italian court granted the appeal of a rapist and overturned his sentence. Sparking worldwide outrage and protests, Italian women showed up to work wearing denim jeans and other clothing articles. The Californian Senate and Assembly also supported their fellow human beings and, in a show of respect, American women stepped into the Parliament also sporting jeans. Patricia Giggans, who is an American feminist and the executive director of LA’s Commission on Assaults Against Women (now known as Peace Over Violence), was inspired by these events and named the last Wednesday of every April as Denim Day.
For the 18-year-old girl who was raped in 1992, it began as a normal day when she was picked up by her driving instructor. However, things soon took a turn for the worst when he raped her. Before she was dropped off at home, the rapist threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Later that day, she informed her parents of the incident and soon the rapist was arrested and prosecuted. Yet, a year later, he appealed his case and was granted freedom after the court agreed to his claim that the victim’s tight jeans couldn’t have been taken off without her help.
Sexual assault is traumatizing. It is difficult to discuss and, as a result of this, sexual assault perpetrators often walk away scot-free. Moreover, the survivors and victims are more often than not blamed for the incident. Such attitudes have also led to lax laws that do not help the survivors and the victims much. Denim Day, thus, aims to rid the world of such attitudes and laws to bring about real justice and support to the ones who deserve it.
Denim Day timeline
April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S. as preventative measures rise.
Advocates mobilize their campaigns by legislating for the Violence Against Women Act in parliament.
Patricia Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, designates the last Wednesday of April as Denim Day to be celebrated in honor of sexual assault survivors and victims.
Almost 11 million people report wearing denim jeans against victim-blaming attitudes in sexual assault cases.
Denim Day FAQs
What day is National Denim Day?
National Denim Day is observed on the last Wednesday of April, falling on April 28 in 2021.
How did Denim Day start?
Denim Day started after a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. This led to a movement of women wearing denim in solidarity with the victim.
What does denim mean?
Denim specifically is a firmly twilled cotton fabric with white thread as a filling and colored warp.
How to Observe Denim Day
One of the best ways to observe this day is by wearing denim. It doesn’t have to be jeans as you can wear denim jackets, shirts, hats, etc.
Raise your voice
Raise your voice in support of the survivors and victims. Do not stay silent for them and yourself. Show the perpetrators that you stand against them and will do anything to stop them.
Spread awareness in your circles and on social media. Call out the apologists for their twisted viewpoints. It’s the 21st century and, while we may have progressed tremendously in the fields of science and technology, many of us still have orthodox views on sexual assault and other societal issues.
5 Facts About Sexual Assault That Will Blow Your Mind
One sexual assault per min
It is reported that every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.
0.5% conviction rate
Out of 1,000 perpetrators, only five are sentenced to prison.
80% of survivors suffer mentally/physically
About four of five sexual assault survivors tend to suffer from chronic physical and/or mental conditions.
Rape survivors are more suicidal
Rape survivors are 13 times more likely to commit suicide than those who are never a victim of crime.
College campus sexual assaults
20% of women and 4% of men will be sexually assaulted while they are at college.
Why Denim Day is Important
It’s a celebration of determination
Sheer determination can help us achieve many things. It was through determination alone that many legislations and acts were passed in favor of sexual assault survivors. Had people given up, orthodox laws would still have been in place.
It’s a celebration of unity
Both men and women, of all ages and backgrounds, can be victims of sexual assault. Therefore, we must show our support and solidarity with them. Coming together as a community will lead to a better future for generations to come.
It’s a celebration of women power
Had it not been for women supporting women during 1999, Denim Day would not have existed today. Women can be each other’s biggest allies as they come from shared experiences due to patriarchy.
Denim Day dates