Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard is joining the international movement to show solidarity with survivors of sexual violence by hosting a “national denim day” demonstration at the courthouse Wednesday.
“Wear jeans for the fight against sexual violence!” Howard directed in a flyer announcing the event at noon in the Fulton County Government Center Assembly Hall. The gathering will celebrate and honor survivors and advocates “in the fight against human trafficking, sexual exploitation and sexual violence,” the office said.
What has become known as the denim day campaign goes back to a 1992 case in Italy. An 18-year-old woman reported being raped by the 45-year-old man who was supposed to be her driving instructor. Instead, she said, he took her to an isolated road, removed her jeans and raped her. He was convicted and sentenced to prison. He appealed, arguing that she consented to have sex with him. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Italy overturned his conviction and ordered him released. The court said that, since she had been wearing tight jeans, she must have helped him remove them, implying consent.
His explanation became known in Italy as “the jeans alibi,” according to news reports. Alessandra Mussolini, a conservative member of Parliament and granddaughter of Benito Mussolini, spoke openly of her outrage over the ruling. She and other women lawmakers from both parties wore jeans and held a protest inside Parliament.
The event sought to highlight a male-dominated court system, and it sparked demonstrations around the world—including in the U.S. with a 1999 protest in California. In the 20 years following, it has spread across the country.
As Howard’s office put it, “Since that day, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against destructive attitudes about sexual harassment, abuse, assault, and rape.”
The flyer includes a crossed blue ribbon with pictures of jeans in the background.