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Marshall raises awareness for sexual violence with Denim Day

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The Women’s Center at Marshall University promoted awareness of sexual violence and the importance of consent Wednesday morning in the Memorial Student Center as part of Denim Day and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Denim Day started as an opportunity to bring awareness to issues surrounding sexual assault and consent,” Claire Snyder, program coordinator for the Women’s Center, said. “It all started in Italy in 1992 when the courts overturned a rape conviction because the victim had been wearing, and I quote, ‘very, very tight jeans,’ and so they basically said that her attacker couldn’t have gotten her jeans off without her consent.”

Snyder said students were encouraged to wear denim Wednesday in support of this event and many others like it.

“Obviously that is a really outdated and erroneous idea of what constitutes consent so the next day in protest to that, Italian legislators, the women, wore jeans to work, so that’s sort of where that started,” Snyder said. “Then it was brought to the United States, so we just use it as an opportunity for people to make a simple statement with their fashion.”

Stephanie Hansell, volunteer at the Women’s Center, said she hopes starting conversation about sexual violence will help lessen the chances of it happening on campus.

“I think it’s extremely important for it to be known on campus because it happens on campus, a lot of people don’t realize how prominent it actually is,” Hansell said.

The Women’s Center gave out informational pamphlets, stickers and had denim on display inside the Student Center for students passing by to see.

“It’s just something that everybody needs to be aware of so they can be prepared and be able to intervene,” Hansell said. “If they see something they can say something, and hopefully put a stop to it, if not totally decrease it as much as we can.”

Snyder said the simple act of wearing denim can make a big impact, especially since Denim Day was celebrated all over the country.

“By wearing jeans they can show that they support awareness of sexual violence and that this is an important issue to them,” Snyder said.

Denim Day served as the final activity planned by the Women’s Center for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected]

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