Downtown Women's Center staff and participants dress in denim ito support sexual and domestic violence survivors.
April 29 was Denim Day, a national campaign run by Downtown Women's Center partner Peace Over Violence (POV) in recognition of Sexual Violence Awareness month.
The origin story, taken from DenimDayInfo.org, is a powerful one:
The campaign was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.
Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.
At DWC, in addition to wearing denim, staff and participants also wrote on slips of paper quotes, poetry, stories, and personal statements of solidarity with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, and posted them on the wall in the Day Center.
Several DWC participants proudly displayed their Denim Day buttons as our Day Center team led an informative discussion on consent and sexual assault. Donated pairs of jeans were piled high on tables for women to take with them after the event.
Meanwhile, a few DWC staff members attended POV's Denim Day Press Event at GUESS Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
The event speakers included Denim Day founder Patricia Giggins, GUESS co-founder Paul Marciano, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
(From right to left) Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Denim Day founder Patricia Giggins
"We have a big job ahead. We are not done," said Giggins when she took the podium. "Denim Day is a call to action. It summons us to do nothing less than change this culture of shame and blame and cover-ups."
Giggins reminds listeners why Denim Day was founded.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added firmly, "There is NO EXCUSE," reminding the audience of Denim Day campaign slogan:
"There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape."
Performing live were musical artists and Denim Day spokespeople Maya Jupiter and Aloe Blacc, who took to the stage hand-in-hand, calling for an end to sexual violence.
Maya Jupiter and Aloe Blacc introduce Jupiter's new song "Never Said Yes," a call to end rape culture.
Also speaking at the event was a POV volunteer and rape survivor, who implored listeners to stay involved in the movement to end sexual violence, inspiring a standing ovation.
In our most recent Needs Assessment, we found that more than two-thirds of the women surveyed had experienced child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault. Knowing that a disproportionate number of people in Skid Row have experienced abuse, DWC provides and advocates for trauma-informed care.
Giggins said, "Let's make what Denim Day stands for be more than just one day of the year. Let's carry the momentum of the day. No excuses. Never an invitation."
"Together, we can reverse the belief that sexual abuse and rape is inevitable."
We are proud to be part of this movement taking a stand against rape and sexual violence.
Learn more about Denim Day by visiting DenimDayInfo.org, and get involved in ending sexual violence for women and men worldwide.