For several years, a day in April has been designated as “Denim Day” to promote public awareness of sexual violence against women. Here is some background on how Denim Day came to be.
It began in 1999 in response to an Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) decision that overturned a rape conviction. There was a dispute about consent. In overturning the decision on the consent issue, the court found that “it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.” As a response to this decision female legislators appeared on the doorstep of Parliament wearing jeans and holding signs that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.”
There was a second, similar case in 2008 where the Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) reviewed a lower court decision with very similar reasoning which had found that “it was impossible to, with the girl wearing jeans and being seated, put his hand under her pants and touch” her. This time the high court overturned the lower court and its own 1999 ruling finding that “[t]he fact that the girl was wearing jeans was not an obstacle to her intimate parts, because it is possible for him to penetrate with his hand under the garment, which is not comparable to a chastity belt.”
This development has “closely aligned the Italian Supreme Court with the European Court of Human Rights’ dictates, and ultimately has marked a step forward towards gender equality and women’s right to sexual autonomy.”
Denim Day however lives on as a reminder and as a way to combat such attitudes.