Denim brings awareness to sexual assault

Denim Day makes a fashion statement that raises awareness about sexual assault, harassment and the myths that surround it.

By Mickie Shaw, Multimedia Editor

Photo by Mickie Shaw/The Valley Star

Valley College observed Denim Day in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month during the latest Club Day held at Monarch Square.

The Valley Health Center, in partnership with Peace over Violence (an activist organization working to educate the public about sexual violence), displayed a table decorated with jean shorts, jackets and blue jeans hung on a clothesline in front of their table. Information about support organizations for victims of sexual assault, buttons, stickers and whistles as well as information about services offered at the Valley Health Center were distributed.

“We are constantly bringing awareness that no matter what you wear or who you are, there is no excuse for assault,” said Sonia Nodal, physician assistant and Valley Health Center clinical supervisor. “It was very exciting to see students interested and to get our buttons and whistles, and just pass them on to their classmates and share the awareness.”

The global movement to bring awareness to sexual assault was the result of the Italian Supreme Court overturning the 1992 rape conviction of a 45-year-old driving instructor. The man was taking his 18-year-old student on her first driving lesson when he drove her to an isolated place, removed her jeans and raped her. He was captured, convicted and imprisoned.

The Supreme Court determined that because the victim was wearing very tight jeans, she had to have helped the rapist remove them; therefore, the sex was consensual. It became known as the “jean alibi.” The next day, Italian female parliamentarians, angered by the ruling, wore jeans in solidarity with the victim and protested on the steps of the Supreme Court. Inspired by the protest, the California Senate and Assembly did the same thing on the Capitol’s steps.

After watching the protest in Sacramento, Peace Over Violence started Denim Day in Los Angeles in April of 1999, as a sexual violence prevention and education campaign.

Jeans are worn in protest against sexual assault, abuse, harassment and harmful myths and attitudes about these acts. The campaign has grown to millions of supporters world wide. Denim Day is formally recognized on April 24 when the public are encouraged to wear jeans.

“I definitely think it draws attention. If you have people wearing the same thing people will ask why are they doing this; why are they showing some sort of solidarity?” said Trinity Frias, 18, a mechanical engineering major. “It’s always good to know that there are these kinds of organizations and events on campus.”

Victims of sexual assault or abuse can visit the Valley Student Health Center. Psychological services, including 12 therapy sessions per semester, are offered. The health center is located in the Student Union Building and is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.