From Where We Are

Denim Day marks a day of awareness around sexual assault in Los Angeles

The last Wednesday of April is when the day is observed each year

"Distressing your denim jeans" by apairandaspare is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

ISA JOHNSON: Denim Day is a day encouraging people to wear denim, to spread awareness of harmful stigma surrounding sexual violence and help show support of survivors. The annual event took place this morning on the South Lawn steps at City Hall, where the founder, Patty Giggans, spoke.

PATTI GIGGANS: Denim Day is now in its 24th year and has become an international vehicle for promoting sexual violence prevention. Prevention. Education. Supporting survivors across the world.

ISA JOHNSON: The conference was followed by additional speakers and healing and art activities. Denim Day was first established in 1999 by Peace Over Violence, an organization dedicated to combating sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence. Following an Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction, the justices ruled that the 18 year old who was raped by her driving instructor must have implied consent because her jeans were too tight to be taken off if she was struggling. The verdict was met with protest from female Italian parliament employees and others around the world who recognized the court’s decision as victim blaming. When the movement reached Los Angeles, Gibbons, the chief executive officer of Peace Over Violence, founded Denim Day, which takes place on the last Wednesday of every April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each year last year, USC Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment organized the student walkout in honor of the day. This Denim Day Sage is teaming up with USC Student Support Community to hold an event on campus at 6 p.m.. Participants will be able to create a piece of art out of denim squares that are painted with sentiments from students and survivors, according to Sage’s Instagram. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women in the U.S. experience rape or attempted rape in their lives. Denim Day is a reminder of such discrepancies and works to bring an awareness, an end to sexual violence. City Councilwoman Katie Yaroslavsky is one of the organizers of Denim Day in Los Angeles and gave perspective on the touchy issue.

KATY YAROSLAVSKY: Since I started speaking, another American has been sexually assaulted. Sexual violence is so insidious that one in four American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

ISA JOHNSON: Monica Rodriguez is another organizer at the event. She tailored the issue towards a community that is often overlooked when it comes to sexual violence.

MONICA RODRIGUEZ: Unhoused women here in Los Angeles, we see the very populations that we’re working to address that are living unhoused on the streets, because women that have experienced these traumas often are unprepared to be able to sustain their lifestyle outside of those environments and likely end up homeless.

ISA JOHNSON: The group of organizers wanted to make sure that even though the subject of sexual assault could be considered distressing to some, that the event is a celebration of strong women who have overcome any past sexual traumas. For Annenberg Media, I’m Isa Johnson.