Members of the Legislature came together on April 27, 2011, wearing their “dungarees” as Assemblyman Tom Amniano called them, to support sexual assault awareness month. Each year since 1999 the Legislative Women’s Caucus has commemorated Denim Day in April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
An 18-year old girl is picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He takes her to an isolated road, pulls her out of the car, wrestles her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully rapes her. Threatened with death if she tells anyone, he makes her drive the car home. Later that night she tells her parents, and they help and support her to press charges. The perpetrator gets arrested and is prosecuted. He is convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
He appeals the sentence. The case makes it’s all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days the case against the driving instructor is overturned, dismissed, and the perpetrator released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “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 verdict outraged the women in the Italian Parliamant who wore jeans the next day in protest – this spread to the California Legislature where female legislators wore jeans to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of sexual assault world-wide.
This year, SCR 15, authored by Senator Noreen Evans declared April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and April 27, 2011 Denim Day.