Jeans will be particularly in fashion Wednesday as UCSB joins the rest of the state in demonstrating for the rights of sexual assault victims.
Jeans for Justice Day, sponsored by the Women’s Center Rape Prevention Education Program and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, urges students, faculty and staff to wear jeans in remembrance of a 1999 decision in Italian High Court. The court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans at the time of the attack.
The court’s ruling included, “It is common knowledge … that jeans cannot even be partly removed without the effective help of the person wearing them … and it is impossible if the victim is struggling with all her might.”
UCSB Rape Prevention Education Program Director Carol Mosely said the case was a symptom of a larger problem.
“A lot of people reacted to it at the time, and people are still bringing it back up because it’s such a good symbol of the problem that we have in the world of blaming victims and not believing victims of sexual assault,” Mosely said. “The case is an extreme example, but that type of thinking goes on all the time, everywhere in the world, including Santa Barbara.”
Mosely said that civilian law enforcement employees throughout California would also wear jeans Wednesday, and that police officers – who are not allowed to wear denim – would wear Jeans for Justice buttons.
“Our next goal is to get people to be really thinking about what it means, and why this case is so important,” Mosely said. “We need to think about the other ways we as a society have trouble believing rape happens. The challenge is to take it from wearing jeans to changing attitudes.”