THE BLOG
08/04/2009 03:31 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Social Justice Meets Fashion Sense

Wednesday, April 22 is Denim Day, in recognition of a 1999 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a 45 year old man's rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans.

The opinion stated that: "It is a fact...that it is nearly impossible to remove jeans on another person without the wearers' active cooperation, after all [taking off jeans] is a difficult enough operation for the one wearing them..." The reasoning followed that because jeans were so difficult to remove by another person, the alleged victim must have helped him and therefore granted consent.

Yes -- this was in 1999.

The decision rightfully sparked outrage and disgust in Italy, lead by Alessandra Mussolini, deputy of the National Alliance Party and granddaughter of former dictator Benito Mussolini. Worldwide pressure convinced the Italian Court to eventually reverse their decision.

In April, 1999 the first Denim Day took place in the U.S. as a symbol to recognize violence against women everywhere. Encouraging men and women to wear jeans and spread awareness of the misconceptions of sexual assault, this day has now established itself as a worldwide campaign.

Let's be clear: Italy is hardly the only country where gender bias and violence still persists. Over the past year, we have seen an escalation of the crisis in the Congo, where sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war against hundreds of Congolese women daily. Just last week, we witnessed Afghan President Hamid Karzai begin to review a law that permitted marital rape in his country. And here in the U.S., domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women aged 15-44 in the U.S according to the Center for Disease Control.

Denim Day reminds us of a major setback but also of the positive outcomes that can result from collective resistance. It is about renewing our commitment to end violence against women in all its forms.

Rock some denim tomorrow, because equal justice never goes out of fashion.

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