Imagine being 18 years old, throwing on your favorite pair of skinny jeans and leaving to meet your 45-year old married driving instructor for your first lesson.
But instead of learning how to drive, your instructor rips off one leg of your jeans, and rapes you.
You tell your parents, who pursue legal action, and soon the instructor is arrested and convicted of rape. But, he later appeals his sentence, only to have the original ruling overturned because the judge thinks that, because you were wearing tight jeans, you had to have helped him remove your pants, making the act consensual.
This is not just a story — this very thing happened to a young girl in Italy in the 1990s, and for the past 17 years, Peace Over Violence has organized its annual Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April to commemorate Sexual Violence Awareness Month, according to the cause’s website.
The campaign originated from the events that ensued after the perpetrator’s sentence reversal: “The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it,” says Denim Day’s site.
Since its inception, wearing jeans on Denim Day “has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.”
But to further spread their message, the campaign has had a significant amount of help from GUESS? and the GUESS? Foundation: in 2014, the brand made Denim Day their first “chain-wide in-store, digital and online philanthropic marketing campaign that spanned across its GUESS, G by GUESS and GUESS Factory brands,” according to the campaign website’s partnership page.
In May 2015, the GUESS Foundation expanded the reach of the campaign beyond the 400 stores that participated the previous year, bringing the cause to Italy for the first-ever Denim Day in Europe.
This year’s Denim Day is set for Wednesday, April 27, and besides wearing denim to stand up to sexual violence, you can register, pledge and donate to show your allegiance to the cause.
Once you register and take the pledge to combat sexual violence, be sure to join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #GearUp and #DenimDay to help spread the campaign’s message that, “THERE IS NO EXCUSE AND NEVER AN INVITATION TO RAPE.”