On Tuesday April 9th Georgetown recognizes its 6th annual Denim Day. Denim Day promotes public awareness of sexual violence against women. This year Denim Day is especially noteworthy because of recent rapes that have gathered international notoriety, such as those in India and Brazil.
Denim Day began in 1999 in response to an Italian Supreme Court (Corte de Cassazione) decision that overturned a rape conviction. The case involved a dispute about conset. In the decision on the consent issue, the court found that “it is nearly impossible to slip off the tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.” In response to this decision female legislators appeared on the doorsteps of Parliament wearing jeaning and holding signs that read “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.”
There was a second, similar case in 2008 where the Supreme Court (Corte de 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 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 endures as a a reminder and as a tool to combat such attitudes.