On April 24th, 2019, members of the New Hampshire Campus Consortium Against Sexual and Interpersonal Violence will join millions of people across the world in wearing jeans with a purpose.

While many workplaces hold an occasional “jeans day,” often offering an opportunity to wear jeans in exchange for a donation to charity, Denim Day goes beyond. On Denim Day we become part of a 20-year tradition of supporting survivors, educating ourselves and other about all forms of sexual violence, and raising awareness of the many myths and misconceptions used to blame victims for the violence committed against them.

Maybe this has you asking: why denim? Denim Day goes back to 1992 in Italy in which an 18-year-old woman was sexually assaulted by an adult man who was her driving instructor. She reported the rape, leading to arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the perpetrator.

Years later, he appealed. The Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the premise that the victim was wearing jeans. The justices felt that because she was wearing very tight jeans, she would have had to help him remove the jeans, thereby implying consent.

The women in the Italian Parliament were enraged by the verdict and launched a protest wearing jeans on the steps of the Supreme Court. This protest was picked up by the international media and sparked other protests. Peace Over Violence held the first “Denim Day in LA” event in April of 1999. For 20 years, Peace Over Violence has run its Denim Day campaign and created resources to help other communities get involved, helping Denim Day grow from a local grassroots demonstration against this particular case to an international event that raises awareness of all forms of sexual assault, harassment and abuse.