While the alleged rapist was convicted and sentenced, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1998 because the victim wore tight jeans. It was argued that she must have had to help her attacker remove her jeans, thus making the act consensual (“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”). The Italian Supreme Court stated in its decision “it is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.”
This ruling sparked widespread protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliment protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.” As a sign of support, the California Senate and Assembly followed suit. Soon Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, (now Peace Over Violence) made Denim Day an annual event. As of 2011 at least 20 U.S. states officially recognize Denim Day in April. Wearing jeans on this day has become an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
In 2008 the Italian Supreme Court overturned their findings, and there is no longer a “denim” defense to the charge of rape.
In Dallas, Texas the U.S. Army Core of Engineers, Southwest Division celebrated Denim Day with a cake cutting, punch, and discussions. The members of the division and their guests wore jeans in support of survivors of sex crimes. For more information about services in the DFW area click here.