Denim Day leaves positive impact

Annual recognition gives back power to sexual assault survivors


Fair use from the Denim Day website. Pictured is the quote “My jeans protest violence,” which spreads awareness on sexual violence by asking people to wear denim. The purpose of wearing denim is to show solidarity with victims of sexual violence.

Jayde Claussen

Denim Day has been celebrated for the past 21 years, and although the thought might be lighthearted, the story behind this day is heartbreaking, yet empowering.

In 1999, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that an 18 year old girl, who was sexually assaulted by her 45-year-old driving instructor, was not raped because her jeans were considered to be too tight for the perpetrator to take off without her help. The court challenged this to imply she gave consent to the assault. The day after the ruling, women of the Italian Parliament wore jeans to work to support the girl and show their disagreement with the outcome of the case. 

Since then, every year on a Wednesday in April, people all over the world wear denim. The Denim Day movement has brought a great deal of both sadness and strength. The day has not only become a form of acknowledgment and support for sexual assault victims, it has also become a day of solidarity. 

While the case may have aged, its impact has not. According to the Peace Over Violence Organization, over 10 million people participated in the event in 2019. On the Denim Day website, you can see statements from people who have joined the movement and how it’s started the healing process for themselves.

By celebrating this day, sexual assault survivors are able to recognize that they are not alone in their experiences and they have allies supporting them through their journey. This is so important considering many cases go unreported and the people who commit these crimes don’t receive the appropriate conviction. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN ), out of every 1,000 reported cases, 995 will walk free. Victims of these atrocious crimes often times feel as if they are unable to report rape because they don’t have a support system or they have no other options. 

Denim Day has united organizations like Time’s up, RAINN, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center to participate in this movement. Over 50 countries participate in the day, including people of all ages and backgrounds.

For the last few years I have striven to educate myself more thoroughly on this topic. I know women who have been sexually assaulted and felt like it was their fault and that they could not do anything about the incident. Many people still think the problem is the victim and not the rapist. By continuing to commemorate Denim Day, we can spread awareness around sexual violence. Through this day, we can reduce the stigma around it and educate others on rape culture which benefits victims and prevents assault.