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In Rome in 1997, a 45-year-old driving instructor was accused of rape. When he picked up an 18-year-old girl for her first driving lesson, he allegedly raped her for an hour, then told her that if she was to tell anyone he would kill her. Later that night she told her parents and her parents agreed to help her press charges. 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 necessarily 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.” As of 2008 the Italian Supreme Court has overturned their findings, and there is no longer a "denim" defense to the charge of rape.
This ruling sparked widespread protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament 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 on April 23. Wearing jeans on this day has become an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
- Maher, Sean. "Denim Day brings big push for sexual assault awareness", InsideBayArea.com. 23 Apr. 2009. Bay Area News Group. 26 Apr. 2009
- Denim Day Attempts Prevention and Awareness, Valley Star - Apr 29, 2009
- SAFE in Hunterdon's Denim Day, New Jersey Monthly - Apr 26, 2009.
- The Herald (Glasgow) archived.
- The Los Angeles Times archived.
- Faedi, Benedetta (2009). "Rape, Blue Jeans, and Judicial Developments in Italy". Columbia Journal of European Law. Retrieved April 26, 2011.