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No Excuses – Denim Day
In Italy in 1992 a 45-year-old driving instructor picked up an 18-year-old girl for her first lesson. Took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and raped her. She courageously told her parents. They helped and supported her in pressing charges, leading to the perpetrator's arrest and prosecution. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.
Unfortunately the same pernicious myths, misconceptions and victim-blaming attitudes that motivated the first Denim Day persist. Experts agree that these myths contribute heavily to the stark realities of sexual violence in the United States: nearly one in five women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime; most rapes are never reported; and only an estimated 6% of perpetrators ever spend a day in jail. The way our society thinks about rape and receives survivors is not only tragic, it's dangerous. Fearing that they won't be believed, survivors are less likely to report their rapes, which means rapists stay out of jail, which means they are free to rape again
For proof, look no further than last month's headlines.
While a 25-year-old woman waited for her ride to work, Michael Pena, an off-duty New York City police officer, approached her, displayed his 9mm pistol, led her across the street to a courtyard and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint. Though he was convicted on three counts of predatory sexual assault, the jury deadlocked on the gravest charge: rape. Despite unwavering testimony from the victim, multiple 911 calls from a witness who reported the attack -- and evidence that showed three separate acts of oral and anal contact with Mr. Pena's penis -- the jury held out on a rape conviction. Why? Because they doubted her memory -- she failed to recall that a car was parked in the driveway Pena led her across -- and because when police officers arrived on the scene, she ran towards the male police officer rather than the female officer.
She didn't remember. She should have behaved differently afterwards.
The rape myths are numerous. By wearing a particular piece of clothing, a victim invited a rape, or made it "easy."
Denim Day is about coming together as a community that has no tolerance for sexual violence, a community that commits its resources -- intellectual, financial, emotional -- to responding differently to survivors and making their healing a priority.
We hope you will join people across the country tomorrow who will be wearing jeans as a show of their confidence in the power of an enlightened, courageous community that stands together and declares: "There is no excuse for and never an invitation to rape."
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