On Wednesday, April 29, 2015 GUESS hosted the 16th Annual Peace Over Violence Denim Day press conference at their headquarters in Los Angeles.
What is Denim Day?
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. (Information courtesy of denimdayinfo.org)
GUESS Chief Executive and Creative Director and GUESS Foundation President, Paul Marciano, opened the event. "GUESS is the first and only international brand to take a stand on this taboo of rape and sexual violence in all it's forms." Marciano noted that Denim Day had turned anger into compassionate and strategic action. He asked that attendees rise together to change and eradicate the shame, blame, and coverup that exists in sexual abuse.
Marciano also announced that he, along with Peace Over Violence Executive Director Patti Giggans, will be bringing Denim Day back to Italy in May 2015. Marciano shared, "Sexual abuse and violence is still a taboo subject in Italy. Our goal is to make noise and change that."
Giggans took the stage next with some statistics:
- Nearly 1 in 5 women in a national survey say they have been raped (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- The majority (54%) of rapes are still not reported (RAINN/Dept. of Justice)
- Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted
- (RAINN/Dept. of Justice)
Giggans asked the audience if we are doing enough to refute the persistent excuses and encouraged everyone to carry the momentum of Denim Day and integrate it to become part of our culture.
"Together we can reverse the belief that sexual abuse is inevitable." -Patti Giggans
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti continued the powerful event, "This city is amazing. Los Angeles is the Denim Day capitol of the world! We are all interconnected by this issue. We know what impact it has in our culture today. It starts with each of us in the world to break the cycle of abuse and to take steps to grow this family to every person in the world. One day we're going to put these jeans on just because we look good in them!"
Mayor Garcetti went on to share a heartbreaking statistic that reported assaults in Los Angeles county are up over 11% so far for 2015. The hope from this statistic is that the culture is changing for the better with increased reporting by victims. He noted that the city is committed to provide support to survivors to expand the sexual and domestic assault response teams. At the present moment, only 10 of the police divisions have domestic assault response teams, however beginning on July 1, 2015 this will expand to all 21 police divisions.
Police Chief Charlie Beck delivered a touching plea, "I can see in the eyes of the victims a loss of innocence. A hole has been ripped in their spirit and they are forever impacted. We have failed in protecting each other. We have to encourage each other to report and work with the system to stop the perpetrators cycle. It's on all of us. If we don't protect each other we'll be back for another Denim Day."
The event was closed by performances by Denim Day SpokesCouple Aloe Blacc and Maya Jupiter. Prior to singing Love Is The Answer, Blacc shared his belief that "with love we can make fundamental change."
Mayor Garcetti made a bold call to action in asking victims to step forward, "Los Angeles has ZERO tolerance for sexual abuse. If you need help, know that you are not alone. If you are a victim, you can go to www.SafeLA.org or call 1-800-799-7233."