In 1992, an 18-year-old girl in Italy was picked-up by her driving instructor to begin a driving lesson. Soon after, she was raped on the side of the road by the instructor. She pressed charges and won her case. The instructor appealed, and the case went to the Italian High Court.
In 1999, the Court overturned the conviction with a member of the High Court declaring that since the victim wore very tight jeans, the instructor could not have removed them himself, therefore the victim must have willingly participated.
Women of the Italian Legislature protested the decision by wearing jeans to work. As news of the decision spread, so did the protest. In April 1999, a social service agency in Los Angeles, California established the first Denim Day in the United States. Since then several entities in other states have hosted events, but there is no organized effort. Missouri does not want to diminish any of the outstanding work accomplished by these organizations; rather, we propose to unite our efforts by branding Denim Day with a national logo symbolizing rape education and awareness (much like the red dress pin for women and cardiovascular disease or the pink ribbon for breast cancer).
In 2007, the Office on Women’s Health asked the Textile and Apparel Management (TAM) department at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) to design a Denim Day lapel pin along with fliers, posters and bookmarks to brand Denim Day on a state level with plans to take it to a national level in 2008. The TAM department went above and beyond the call. Each student in the Computer Aided Design class created a design to symbolize Denim Day and assembled a poster presentation. The TAM department invited a select group of injury and violence prevention stakeholders to serve as a focus group to select the pin design.
Students in TAM’s Brand Marketing class each created a message to brand Denim Day. They displayed their products and the students in the TAM department selected the message for the posters, flyers and bookmarks.
Denim bags were designed and stitched by students in the Apparel Production class to be donated to the University Hospital and given to rape victims that present to the Emergency Department. These bags were filled with flip-flops, t-shirts, drawstring pants and personal hygiene items. The student Association of Textile and Apparel Management (ATAM) solicited free t-shirts, flip-flops and toiletries for the denim bags. DHSS employees donated toiletries, and the Oral Health program donated toothbrushes. The Restorative Justice program in the Department of Corrections stitched the drawstring pants from material donated by the TAM department.
The Office on Women’s Health assembled 2,000 toolkits through funding made possible by the Federal Office on Women’s Health. The toolkit contains all the materials needed to plan and implement a Denim Day event. Office on Women’s Health distributed several hundred toolkits across Missouri and the United States.
The Office on Women's Health received a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. Through their generosity the Office on Women's Health purchased Denim Day materials for Missouri events. The grant also funded the development of the Denim Day website and other communication materials.