In 1998, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans at the time of the attack. They decided that because they were so tight, she must have helped her attacker remove them, thus making the relations consensual. Outraged by the ruling, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to court, and were publicly supported by the California State Senate and other organizations. The anniversary of the landmark case has become known as Denim Day, and is observed every April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year, the Rape Crisis Center, which is dedicated to raising awareness of and changing the attitudes surrounding sexual violence, will be hosting their annual fundraising event on April 26.
The RCC invites the community to participate in Denim Day in two ways. First, by encouraging local businesses to allow employees to wear jeans to work if they make a $5 donation. Second, through a $60 luncheon and silent auction at Fashion Show. This year, Kona Grill is catering the lunch, which includes a denim-themed fashion show with Guess outfitting the models.
For the second half of the program, Macy’s is sponsoring a “Survivor and Champion Runway Show.” Over a dozen rape survivors are expected to grace the stage, along with volunteers and “champions,” including a representative from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and members of the media who cover the issue in a manner that avoids the current victim-blaming culture.
“Sexual assault is about power and control, so the best thing you can do for any survivor is return their power and control back to them,” says Daniele Dreitzer, executive director of the RCC. “We figured what better way to do that than to allow [survivors] to walk this runway in a very public way … and just for them to feel that support and recognition from a huge crowd of people.”
Dreitzer hopes to raise $35,000, surpassing last year’s $27,000 mark. This would help the nonprofit continue to fund services such as its 24/7 crisis hotline and hospital response as well as counseling and advocacy during the legal process. In 2016, the crisis center’s staff and volunteers responded to over 700 people and fielded 9,611 calls and web visits. The goal of the center is to provide help, hope and healing. Moving forward, Dreitzer believes, “Our emphasis and ability to work more on prevention [will be key].”
Denim Day Luncheon
April 26, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., Great Hall at Fashion Show, $60 (not available day of), rcclv.org.