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Denim Day focuses on sexual violence, victim support

LOS ANGELES — Events were held across the Southland April 25 to recognize the 19th annual Denim Day campaign to combat sexual violence and supporting its victims.

Denim Day founder Patti Giggans, executive director of the group Peace Over Violence, joined city and community leaders at Los Angeles City Hall to discuss the campaign and — in conjunction with the #MeToo and Times Up movements — announce a “Sexual harassment: Not on my watch” initiative.

“This Denim Day we’ve expanded our signature message, which I know many of you know, that ‘There’s no excuse and never an invitation to rape,’” Giggans said during a news conference outside City Hall.

“Now we include sexual harassment. There is no excuse and never an invitation to harass, abuse, assault or rape.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also spoke at the news conference.

“We have to care about sexual violence first and foremost because of the effect it has on each and every one of us,” Garcetti said. “Some of us directly, some of us our siblings, some of us our co-workers, some of us our neighbors. But we care about this also because it launches a cycle of violence, of poverty, of trauma that continues.”

Peace Over Violence championed Denim Day in Los Angeles in 1999 as part of an international protest following the Italian Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a rape conviction. The victim wore tight jeans, which the justices reasoned the suspect couldn’t have removed without her help.

Women in the Italian Parliament began to wear jeans to work in protest of the ruling, and the movement has spread around the world since then.

Denim Day encourages people to wear jeans as a symbol of protest against sexual assault and raise awareness of misconceptions that surround it.

The city of West Hollywood also observed Denim Day with an event and group photograph outside City Hall.

The city also conducted a denim drive for Denim Day, encouraging community members to donate gently used denim jeans to the Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center.

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