Denim Day raises awareness on rape

Jonah Ullendorff

A panel of presenters speaking about sexual assault was organized by Trishta Dordi ’15 as part of a series of events leading up to Denim Day April 23.
Presenters included Harriet Kerr from the UCLA Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, representatives from the South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency and Angela Parker from the Jenesse Center for domestic violence intervention. Students were advised to be sensitive when speaking to peers about assault and to never engage in victim blaming.
Denim Day originated in Italy, where an 18-year-old Italian girl was raped by her 45-year-old driving teacher. The teacher was sentenced to prison for rape, but during an appeal his sentence was overturned, because he claimed the sex had to be consensual due to the fact that the girl’s jeans were too tight to get off on his own. Outraged, members of the Italian parliament wore jeans to work in protest. The movement then spread to Los Angeles because executive director of Peace over Violence Patricia Giggans, wished to spread awareness. Giggans encouraged people to wear jeans during a day in April 1999, and Denim Day was born.
“Not a lot of people who experience sexual assault know how to receive help and this presentation brought not only an awareness about the severity of the issue but an outlet for those who ever need assistance in the future,” Asrid Garay ’15 said.
Denim materials were also posted around the campus, with slogans like “no means no” and “there is no excuse.” According to Denim Day’s website, it’s goal is to inform people how common rape is, and how many rapists are unpunished. Only three percent of rapists will ever spend time in jail, and one out of six women will be raped during their lifetime.
“I really think it really informed people on how prevalent sexual abuse really is and how difficult it is for victims to come out,” Dordi said.