April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. And Wednesday is Denim Day, a day for educating and rallying against sexual violence.
The campaign started in Italy in the 1990s when a young teenager was sexually assaulted by her driving instructor. The driver was arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison, explains Lizeth Castillo, managing attorney at Peace Over Violence. But eventually, his sentence was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court.
“There was this sort of justification submitted that the girl at the time was wearing such tight jeans, that there was no way that he could have actually gotten them off alone,” Castillo says, adding there was a presumption that the victim must have helped him take the jeans off and implied consent.
The court decision resulted in protests that eventually turned into an annual event. Denim Day is now held nationwide on the last Wednesday of April.
After two years of pandemic cancellations, the nonprofit group Peace Over Violence will host a rally once more at LA City Hall, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
“It's not only to spread awareness, but it's also a continued form of protest,” Castillo explains. “This movement will continue to happen until we live in a very real society where the threat of sexual violence — based on what you're wearing, based on your appearance, based on your gender — all of these things are obsolete.”
Participants include Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, and City Councilmembers Nithya Raman and Monica Rodriguez, as well as Patti Giggans, Denim Day founder and CEO of Peace Over Violence. Survivors of rape and sexual violence will also speak.
Survivors of sexual violence can access resources by calling the LA Rape and Battering Hotline at 626-793-3385 or 213-955-9090.