Throughout the month of April, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) partners with different entities across the state of California to raise awareness about sexual assault, and inform the public on what they can do as individuals to create change within the larger culture and even in their own communities.
Raising awareness for sexual assault continues to be critical, as national studies suggest that approximately 1 in 2 women, and 1 in 5 men, experience an act of sexual violence in their lifetime. According to CALCASA, California alone is home to 2 million women survivors of rape.
Additionally, as part of sexual assault awareness month, CALCASA reiterates the intersectionality of this issue. The fight against ending sexual assault is closely connected to protecting reproductive rights, economic justice, and racial justice. Making sure that the most vulnerable communities and survivors of sexual assault have access to basic needs, and have the right to control their own bodies, is crucial.
For this year’s sexual assault awareness month, CALCASA partnered with Peace Over Violence to develop Denim Day California. The Denim Day campaign was started in response to the overturning of a rape conviction on behalf of the Italian Supreme Court. The justices stated that this ruling was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans, and in their opinion, she therefore must have helped her rapist remove her jeans (which in their view represented consent).
Ever since this ruling, Peace Over Violence has joined in the activism and protest surrounding this ruling and case by wearing jeans on Denim Day. Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against sexual assault, and has become a rape prevention education campaign. This campaign invites community leaders, elected officials, students, and businesses to join the protest by wearing jeans.
For this year’s Denim Day, held on April 26, local and state community leaders, Californian Senate and Assembly members, activists, and the public joined together at the California State Capitol. Together they reiterated the importance of continuing the educational campaign against sexual assault, and the protection of the victims of sexual assault.