SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – As part of April’s activities to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Santa Clara County Office of Women's Policy and the Public Health Department are joining national efforts highlighting sexual violence as a major public health, human rights and social justice issue.
The County is encouraging community members to help raise awareness and make a public statement against rape, by wearing jeans to work on Denim Day, which will take place throughout the United States on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
“We want to make it very clear that there is never, ever a situation or circumstance that invites or excuses someone from committing sexual abuse. This is one of the most vicious crimes against an individual,” said President Mike Wasserman, Chair of the Board’s Public Safety and Justice Committee, who will be wearing jeans tomorrow in support of Denim Day. “We all need to help educate our community about the law and the consequences of ignoring it or violating it.”
Sexual violence is one of the most vicious, and quite often hidden public health threats in any community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, including the 1.3 million women who were raped during the last 12 months.
Over 50 percent of women who are sexually assaulted in the U.S. are raped by a current or former partner. And nearly 1 in 2 women (44.6 percent) and 1 in 5 men (22.2 percent) have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape in their lifetime.
“We all must work together to prevent sexual violence because of the harmful and lasting consequences that can damage the victim, families and communities,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s Health Officer. “Post-traumatic stress disorder, strained relationships, social isolation and unhealthy behaviors are a few of the long-term adverse outcomes that we can work to prevent.”
The Denim Day 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, an 18 year old young woman raped by her driving instructor, 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.
Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign members of the community, elected officials, businesses and students are encouraged to make a social statement with choice of dress by wearing jeans on April 23, 2014.
Sexual assault (commonly known as rape) is considered a statutory offense that provides that it is a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat.
The County of Santa Clara encourages residents to help end sexual violence in the community every day. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse you can get help. Please call one of the 24-hour crisis lines below or get live help online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at https://ohl.rainn.org/online. There is never an excuse or reason for sexual violence.
Community Solutions Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence
(South County & San Benito County)
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Sexual Assault Online Hotline
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, Carla Collins, SCC Office of Women’s Policy (408) 299-5142/5152
Posted: April 22, 2014