Pagosa observes Denim Day, April 24


By Mara Koch

Special to The SUN

Denim Day has become a worldwide event that calls to community members and elected officials to stand with survivors of sexual assault and wear denim as a visible means of protest against the myths and misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program (ACVAP) will be bringing Denim Day to Pagosa Springs on Wednesday, April 24.

The history of Denim Day begins in 1997 in Rome, Italy. An 18-year-old girl was picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor for her first driving lesson. The instructor then raped her and abandoned her in an alley. The girl reported the incident, and the instructor was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail. The appeal process made it all the way to the Italian Supreme Court, where the case was overturned and the perpetrator was released.

The Head Judge stated, “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.”

Enraged by this verdict, the women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the parliament building, and a movement was born.

During April in past years, ACVAP has organized “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” — a community event to raise awareness of the effects of domestic violence and sexual assault. On Wednesday, April 24, ACVAP will sponsor “Walk a Mile in Their Jeans” in conjunction with worldwide Denim Day events.

Not only are community members encouraged to wear jeans in protest of the misconceptions that surround sexual assault — misconceptions like the statement of the Italian judge — but they are also invited to join with other community members in support of sexual assault survivors everywhere and to stand up and demand an end to this crime.

The event begins at noon at the Bell Tower at the corner of San Juan and Lewis streets in downtown Pagosa Springs. From there, the community will have a short walk (not really a mile) in solidarity and to raise awareness around this issue. All community members — women and men, young and old — are encouraged to participate.

For more information on this event, to report a sexual assault, or for help and support around domestic or sexual violence, call ACVAP’s 24-hour confidential hotline at 264-9075.