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MADISON - On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, I invite you to observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month with me by participating in Denim Day. By wearing denim to work on Denim Day, you will help raise awareness of sexual assault and thereby help promote the responses needed to address the problem.
Denim day is a symbolic gesture that began in response to a sexual assault case in Italy in the 1990s. The victim was 18-year old girl who was picked up by her married, 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He took her to an isolated road, yanked her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans, and forcefully raped her. Threatened with death if she told anyone, he made her drive the car home. Later that night she told her parents, and they supported her when she pressed charges. The perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
The perpetrator appealed his sentence and the case went all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. The Court overturned the conviction and dismissed the case. The Chief Judge found, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”
Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action has motivated others, including the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) to do the same in observance of Sexual Awareness Month.
Please join me in wearing jeans to work on Wednesday, April 27 and in attending a ceremony in the Capitol rotunda at 12:15 sponsored by WCASA.