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Calif. Lawmakers Ask People to Wear Jeans for Sexual Assault Awareness

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

April may be officially recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in California if ACR 129, proposed by Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino) and co-authored by 77 other lawmakers, is passed by the state Legislature. The resolution was introduced on April 1 and was adopted by the Assembly on April 21. Along with officially recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 23, 2014, would be recognized as Denim Day California.

Denim Day began after the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction of an accused rapist in 1998 because the victim wore tight jeans. The court argued that because the victim's jeans were so tight, the accused would have needed her help getting them off, making the act consensual. The day after the ruling, female members of the Italian Parliament wore jeans in protest and held signs that read: "Jeans: An Alibi for Rape."

Wearing jeans to work on April 23 has become an international symbol of protest against specific attitudes about sexual assault that perpetuate the myth that some victims are partially to blame because of the clothes they choose to wear. It is one reason why many victims develop the mindset that they are responsible for a crime committed against them.

Many psychological and criminal experts try to dispel these myths by making it clear that rape cannot simply be categorized as a sexual crime. It is not about people who just lose control at the sight of someone wearing clothes they find provocative in nature. It is a violent crime about power, control, anger, and humiliation.

Denim Day is officially recognized in several states already and many lawmakers hope California will be next. ACR 129 also recognizes the coalition of rape crisis centers, law enforcement agencies, churches, health care providers and other professionals who support survivors of rape and sexual assault.

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