The Birth of Denim Day and its History Fighting Rape Culture

Denim Day is a national sexual assault awareness day, held on the last Wednesday of every April (Sexual Assault Awareness Month). As Denim Day rolls around the corner, it’s both essential and critical to talk about its history. In 1992 in Rome, Italy, an 18-year-old girl was raped by her driving instructor. Following the assault, she filed a report leading to him being sentenced to prison. In 1999 the instructor tried to appeal the sentence claiming that they had consensual sex.

The defense claimed that because her jeans were so “tight” she must’ve assisted him to remove her jeans, therefore making it consensual sex and not rape. Believing him, the Italian High Court ruled for the instructor’s release and overturned the case.

“The Jean Alibi” was the court ruling that stated that a woman couldn’t be raped if they were wearing jeans, coined during the 1999 case.

When news broke about the court ruling, the women of the Italian parliament decided to wear denim in protest of “The Jean Alibi.” Their form of protest is now commonly known as showing solidarity for sexual assault survivors on Denim Day.

Inspired as she was by the Italian women, Patti Giggans, the executive director of Peace Over Violence, urged people around the nation to participate in Denim Day as a way to educate others on the myths surrounding sexual violence.

Today, Denim Day is an international day of protest meant to open space for important conversations. Following in the footsteps of the Italian women who began the protests, millions of people worldwide now wear jeans on Denim Day to show solidarity for sexual assault survivors and stand up against rape culture.

This year, Girls Academic Leadership Academy was able to participate in Denim Day by wearing jeans to school on Wednesday, April 27. This event was held by GALA’s STOP (Students Together Organizing Peace) club where students were able to learn more about this event.

If you are interested in contributing to work like the planning and execution of denim day, you should check out GALA’s STOP club, which meets every other Tuesday at the cafeteria.