Published April 26, 2018
AKWESASNE—Denim Day is a national campaign to raise awareness and prevent sexual violence through education and public awareness. Wearing denim is a show of unity and a visible sign of protest against sexual assault and rape against women. Staff at the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Three Sisters Program encouraged community members to support efforts to end sexual assault by participating in National Wear Denim Day on Wednesday, Onerahtókha/April 15, 2018.
“For the past three years, the Three Sisters Program has been raising awareness of sexual assault committed against women through Denim Day and the assorted support services that we provide,” shared Three Sisters Program Manager Ryan King. King added, “We offer medical, legal, and personal advocacy, and emergency/crisis services for any and all victims of sexual assault or violence. Our advocates are available 24/7 to work hand-in-hand with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department to provide a Safe Home should a victim’s safety be in immediate danger.”
Denim Day arose due to a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court, in which a rape case conviction was overturned as the Supreme Court justices felt that, since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she had to have helped her rapist remove her jeans, implying consent to the sexual assault. The following day, female justices in the Italian Parliament wore tight jeans, as a show of solidarity for the victim. As a result, Denim Day became an annual event in response to this case and its ruling; as well as a show of protest against destructive, harmful attitudes towards sexual assault.
The very first Denim Day to take place in the United States came in April 1999, where a social service agency in Los Angeles, California founded the first Denim Day. From there, the campaign has grown into a national movement. The Three Sisters Program and tribal staff promoted and participated in National Wear Denim Day to show unity and solidarity against sexual assault and sexual violence against Native American women.
“As a tribal community, our women and children are our future to us and should be free from violence and sexual assault in any form,” said Tribal Chief Beverly Cook, who is a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Chief Cook noted, “Through the Three Sisters Program, we offer assistance in protecting, empowering and guiding victims on their path to recovery from traumatic events; which regretfully are not a thing of the past, as they should be, but continue to be a part of our reality today.”
Embrace your voice. Speak out against sexual assault. For more information on Denim Day, or on sexual assault/violence, please contact the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Three Sisters Program by calling (518) 358-4406.