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Breaking the Silence: Denim Day & the Fight Against Sexual Violence.

This year on April 24th, millions of people will wear denim as part of the #DenimDay campaign, including our Project Mona’s House team – but why is that? Starting in 1999, Denim Day is a campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Now, Denim Day is the longest running anti-sexual violence movement in history, uniting millions in wearing denim to combat myths surround sexual assault.

Why Denim?

In 1992, an Italian Court overturned the conviction of a 45-year-old rapist and set him free, claiming that the 18-year-old victim’s tight jeans couldn’t have been taken off without her help. The man had been her driving instructor for her very first lesson, where he took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, removed her jeans and assaulted her. She reported him to the police, leading to his arrest and conviction.

Years later, he appealed and the court ruled in his favor. They said that because the victim was wearing very tight jeans, she MUST have helped help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it couldn’t be rape but consensual sex – eventually becoming the “jeans alibi”. Outraged, a group of women from the Italian Parliament began wearing denim as part of a “jean strike”, day in and out, until the courts removed the jeans alibi. Their passion and demonstration was picked up by news outlets across the world.

Photo from the day after the Italian Courts overturned the conviction.

That same year, the California legislature joined their peers in the Italian government and began wearing denim to sessions. The organization, Peace Over Violence, joined the movement and began platforming education combatting myths regarding sexual assault. The first Denim Day in LA event was held in April of 1999. Now, Denim Day continues 25 years later with over 100 million people worldwide, featuring all 50 states and in over 100 countries. Every year, we come together wearing denim to fight myths about sexual assault – like how clothing you wear “invites” rape and sexual assault.

Some other common misconceptions surrounding sexual assault:

MYTH: "Rape occurs in a dark alley by a stranger."

REALITY: Most sexual assault survivors know the perpetrator. About 70% of female survivors reported the offender was an intimate partner, other relative, friend or acquaintance.

MYTH: "A lot of victims lie about being raped or give false reports."

REALITY: False rape charges are not frequently made. According to the Department of Justice, one in every 2.7 million heterosexual males will have a false claim made against them.

MYTH: "Victims who do not fight back have not been sexually assaulted."

REALITY: Anytime someone is forced to have sex against their will, they have been sexually assaulted, regardless of whether or not they fought back. Many survivors experience tonic immobility or a “freeze response” during an assault where they physically cannot move or speak.

MYTH: “Men cannot be sexually assaulted.”

REALITY: Men can be and are sexually assaulted. One in six men have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.

Ending sexual violence takes all of us. So join us on Wednesday, April 24th in wearing denim and take the pledge to educate others about sexual violence, support survivors, and stand against rape culture.


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