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From Workwear to Activism: The Significance of Denim Day in History

Updated: May 4

The Incident 1990 Italy

Denim Jeans

Thankfully, the girl had the courage to report the assault, leading to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator. He was rightfully convicted of rape and sentenced to jail. However, years later, he appealed the conviction, claiming that the sexual encounter was consensual. Shockingly, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction, releasing the perpetrator. Their reasoning was based on the victim wearing tight jeans, suggesting that she had willingly helped him remove them, thus deeming it consensual. This absurd justification became known as the "jeans alibi" and caused outrage throughout Italy.

In response to this unjust verdict, women in the Italian Parliament staged a powerful protest. They stood on the steps of the Supreme Court wearing jeans, symbolizing their solidarity and defiance against the prevailing myths surrounding sexual assault. This protest gained international attention, inspiring the California Senate and Assembly to follow suit on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento.

Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans, the Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, saw the media coverage of this movement and believed that everyone should join in wearing jeans to challenge the misconceptions surrounding rape. Thus, Denim Day in LA was born. The first Denim Day event took place in April 1999 in Los Angeles and has been held annually ever since, serving as a powerful reminder of the importance of consent and the need to combat victim-blaming.

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