By Stephanie Haynes, Health Intervention Program Health Educator

Editor’s Note:  This article is from the May/June Issue 2022 Rice Paper.

The Health Intervention Program Unit provided a Denim Day celebration at the Love House, a transitional shelter for women. The day began with a welcome given by Stephanie Haynes, engaging the women by providing information on why Denim day is so important.

Denim Day California campaign began in 1999 with California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) and Peace Over Violence, as part of an international protest of an Italian High court decision to over turn a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans. The Italian Supreme Court dismissed charges against a 45-year old rape suspect because his 18-year old victim was wearing jeans at the time of the attack. The court stated in its decision that “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. The judgment sparked a worldwide outcry from those who understand coercion; threats and violence go along with the act of rape. The unpopular verdict became an international symbol of myth-based injustice for sexual victims. Denim Day is observed across the state breaking the dress code and the silence on Wednesday April 27th by wearing jeans to participate in Denim Day California.

Daniel Cruz led a guided meditation to set the tone of the day and Debra Colter gave the history of Denim Day. The staff engaged the client in art therapy to express their creativity through making beautiful journals and Rose of courage pen made out of denim. The clients were given 12 questions: Listen, Let Go, Learn and Love that would change their lives. They had to choose one question, write about it and share their stories with the group. The day was heartfelt and emotional, listening to their stories. Some of the clients shared how different their lives would be, if only they had listened to their parents. Another client confessed if they only had more compassion they would be able to have love in their heart.

The ladies expressed their gratitude and appreciation for having us there. The ladies received beautiful gift bags made out of denim that were made especially for them. The day ended with an inspirational message by Stephanie Haynes.