Denim Day grew out of a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans.
An 18-year old girl was picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully raped her. Threatened with death if she told anyone, he made her drive the car home.
Later that night she told her parents, and they helped and supported her to press charges. The perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
However, he appealed the sentence.
The case made it all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days, the case against the driving instructor was overturned, dismissed and the perpetrator was released. In a statement by the chief judge, he argued, “Because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”
Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly to do the same.
People all over the world were outraged, and wearing jeans became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes and myths surrounding sexual assault.