South Stands in Solidarity for Denim Day

South students participate in a sexual assault awareness campaign

Aisha Bhoori, News Editor

On Friday April 26, South will hold Denim Day to raise both awareness for sexual abuse and money for 180 Turning Lives Around, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe environment for victims of sexual abuse in Monmouth County.

Denim Day emerged as a day of dissent beginning in 1999 when the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a forty-five year old driving instructor who was found guilty of raping his eighteen year old student and holding her at knife-point. The judge ruled, “Because the victim wore very, very, tight jeans, she had to help [the rapist] remove them…and by removing the jeans…it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” To protest the ruling, women in the Italian Parliament issued a “skirt strike”, wearing jeans to work and holding placards with the phrase, “Jeans: An Alibi for Rape.”

Since that time, businesses throughout the world have participated in promoting rape and sexual violence awareness in April, holding a specific day in which employers and employees wear denim. In 2010, Governor Chris Christie signed a law recognizing Denim Day in New Jersey, bolstering the international event.

This year, a group of student leaders from 180 have brought the first annual Denim Day to the Eagle Community. On April 14, Seniors Sharon Kim, Gabrielle Reimann, Sharon Sangermano, and Kristen West as well as Juniors Aisha Bhoori, Erika Hallenbeck, Annabel Lamb, Kelly Lozo, and Tara Smyth participated in a Denim Day campaign and photo shoot for 180, sporting jeans decorated with slogans such as, “My Body, My Rights” and “Respect & Protect.”

Recognizing the need to broaden awareness, these students took initiative by appealing to the faculty to hold Denim Day. With the help of open-minded teachers and administrators such as Ms. D’Urso and Mr. Baglivio, the girls have expanded the rape awareness movement to the hallways of South.

Reimann, a longtime volunteer for 180, asserts the necessity of channeling passion for a cause into action: “I think it is important that we, as students, don’t sit passively and wait for others to galvanize change. There are things we can do to help; Denim Day is one of them.”

Sponsored by the Diversity Council and the Gay Straight Alliance, Denim Day serves as a transcendence of stereotypes about rape and sexual assault, akin to the newfound understanding of LGBT equality initiated by the Day of Silence.

To participate in Denim Day, staff and students can offer a five dollar donation and wear blue jeans as well as provided “Denim Day” stickers to show their support for sexual assault awareness. To donate and receive a sticker, please see Mr. Baglivio, Aisha Bhoori, or Gabrielle Reimann.