Denim Day highlights sexual assault awareness

Anzhelika Tolstikhina

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Washburn University announced a Denim Day during which the students may wear denim or teal as a show of support for victims of sexual violence.

From 9–11 a.m. students will be offered a chance to decorate a denim pocket to manifest support for ending violence on Washburn campus, which they will staple to the board on the Quad lawn.

At noon the Union Underground will hold a “Walking the Walk” event where visitors can speak with counselors and advocates from the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment as well as seeing real-life material in order to raise awareness for  violence.

The Washburn Employee Wellness Program, sponsored by the SRWC, will host an Employee Denim/Teal photo contest. The departments wearing denim or teal will be able to take a picture and email it to Coletta Meyer at [email protected] by 5 p.m. to be entered into a drawing to win a free lunch for up to 10 people.

“This is a new program SRWC joined on Sexual Assault Awareness Day but we have been involved in Wear Red for Women photo contest every second Friday of February,” said Colette Meyer, wellness coordinator. “This year SRWC partnered with the Sexual Assault Grant and help them promote the day.”

In addition, students may notice teal ribbons wrapped around one in five trees on the WU campus representing national statistics indicating one in five women will experience sexual assault.

“I think it is really important to bring awareness into our society about sexual assault so we can better prevent it from happening,” Meyer said.

The majority of people associate denim with a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile used to manufacture jean clothing. Since so many signature wardrobe items are made out of a particular material, it would be understandable why April 27 is a National Denim Day, as much as denim deserves all of the praise for granting many people the comfort of the daily life. Unfortunately, this day holds a sorrowful reason for its existence.

In 1992 in Rome when an incognizant 18-year-old girl went for her first driving lesson that turned out to be an hour-long brutal rape by her 45-year-old driving instructor. After the incident he threatened to murder her if she were ever to reveal the incident. However, the young woman told her parents later that night, and with their help, she pressed charges with the Italian Supreme Court against the instructor.

At first the alleged rapist was convicted and sentenced, but in 1998 the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction, claiming that because the 18-year-old wore tight jeans, the rape would be impossible to have occurred. As outrageous as the argument might seem, the court reasoned that she must have had to help the assaulter remove her jeans, thus making the act consensual.

“It is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them,” said the Italian Supreme Court.

The logic of Italian Judicial Government sparked widespread protest around the world. Even though the Italian Court has overturned its decision once more in 2008 excluding a “denim” defense to the charge of rape, the Denim Day is annually recognized worldwide and by at least 20 U.S. states in particular. Wearing jeans on this day has become an international symbol of protest against destructive prejudices about sexual assault, and Washburn University is actively involved in raising the awareness on such an issue.