Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wore denim jeans Wednesday along with fellow Angelenos, guests and supporters as a sign of protest against sexual violence at the GUESS headquarters downtown organized by the LA-based nonprofit organization Peace Over Violence. Wednesday’s Denim Day also coincided with other “protests” held in the state of California after the Legislature designated April 23 as the Denim Day in California while also approving April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Along with Garcetti, the day was observed with the founder of Denim Day in LA & USA and Executive Director of Peace Over Violence Patti Giggans joining the event, so did Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck and Denim Day celebrity spokespeople and musicians Aloe Blacc and Maya Jupiter.
According to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition (DVSAC) “‘Denim Day’ is a campaign to prevent sexual violence through education and public awareness. Denim Day is a call to action for all people to come together by wearing denim as a visible sign of protest against sexual violence. By participating in Denim Day this April, you can play a role in the prevention of sexual violence.”
The annual sexual violence prevention and education campaign encourages to wear jeans to support survivors of sexual assault and raise awareness around sexual violence issues. Organized annually by the LA-based nonprofit organization Peace Over Violence, Denim Day “recalls an Italian court case that sparked international outrage when judges did not convict a rapist because the victim wore jeans. The judges ruled that because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her attacker remove them, thus implying consent,” said the Peace Over Violence.
Now in its 15th year, Denim Day is held each April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Millions of supporters around the country and globally are expected to participate this year.
Global lifestyle brand GUESS Inc. and the GUESS Foundation have signed on as the official fashion sponsor of Denim Day 2014 to raise awareness about sexual violence. The company donated $100,000 to promote “Denim Day” through the company’s first chain-wide in-store, digital and online philanthropic marketing campaign spanning across its GUESS, G by GUESS and GUESS Factory brands.
Other activities in other parts of the city and Los Angeles County were also held, including performances as their respective schools.
Denim Day has been internationally celebrated since 1999 in protest of an Italian Supreme Court ruling that overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans. In 1992, an 18-year-old girl in Italy was raped by her driving instructor during a driving lesson. He was convicted, but in 1999, the Court overturned the verdict on the premise 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.”
Women of the Italian Legislature protested the decision by wearing jeans to work. As news of the decision spread, so did the protest. In April 1999, a social service agency in Los Angeles established the first Denim Day in the United States.
DVSAC carries on this tradition. We wear denim to dispel harmful myths about sexual violence and survivors.
In Sacramento, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) has observed Denim Day at the State Capitol since 2001. Wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
“Denim Day is an opportunity during Sexual Assault Awareness Month to recognize the valuable work that legislators, advocates, and volunteers are doing to support survivors of sexual assault,” said Sandra Henriquez, CALCASA Executive Director. “Together, we can end sexual violence and change our culture that perpetuates negative stereotypes about sexual assault.”