TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
According to denimdayinfo.org, in 1992, an 18-year-old Italian girl was waiting to be picked up by her driving instructor. This instructor ended up raping her and then threatened to kill her if she told anyone. After telling her parents, the rapist was arrested and prosecuted. He was found guilty by trial.
However, years later, he appealed his case with the Italian Supreme Court and was set free. His claim was that the victim’s jeans were so tight that they couldn’t have been taken off without her help, making it consensual.
“[This] is a direct example of how sexual assault victims are not believed and often blamed for the assault due to their behavior or manner of dress,” said Christine McGill, Tyndall Air Force Base Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.
This appeal created worldwide outrage and protests. In response, women from the Italian Parliament showed up on the steps of the Supreme Court wearing denim jeans. Out of solidarity, women within the California Senate and Assembly also protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, California, bringing awareness to the event to the United States.
“By wearing denim or the color teal, members recognize that awareness and understanding of sexual assault are key to overcoming the many myths surrounding this form of violence,” McGill continued. “It allows for open conversation about why we wear denim on this particular day and what the impact can be for victims when they are blamed for wearing certain clothing.”
Patricia Giggans, an American feminist and advocate for supporting victims of domestic violence, was inspired by the protests and names the last Wednesday of every April, which is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, as Denim Day. Since 1999 this has been a time to raise awareness about sexual assault and educate people on where to seek resources.
“Denim Day is the longest running sexual violence campaign in history,” added McGill. “Sexual assault violates our Air Force Core Values and ultimately destroys unit cohesion and trust which is essential to mission success and readiness.”
The United States Air Force has a zero tolerance policy for sexual violence of any kind. If you or someone you know needs assistance reporting an assault or seeking information on what the Tyndall Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office has to offer, stop by their office located in building 662, room 201, or call the Tyndall SAPR Hotline 24/7 at (850) 625-1231.