Posted Thursday, April 28th, 2016

2016 Denim Day 2

(l/r) Donna Pasquariello, Coordinator, Victim Witness Unit, MCPO Dorothy DiFabio, Coordinator of Nurse Examiners, MCPO Michelle Leone, Advocate, Victim Witness Unit, MCPO Emily K. Ryzuk, Program Lead/Lead Clinician, Morris CARES Meg Rodriguez, Supervising Assistant Prosecutor, Sex Crimes/Child Endangerment Unit, MCPO Denise H. Arseneault, Deputy Chief of Investigations, MCPO Regina Braham, Director of Community Relations, JBWS Thomas A. Zelante, First Assistant Prosecutor, MCPO

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office participated in “Denim Day in Morris County’’ activities on Sunday, April 24, at the Morris Plains VFW hall. The Freeholders declared April 24 as “Denim Day’’ as part of an international campaign to raise awareness and educate the public about the intolerable violent crime of sexual assault.

The Denim Day campaign across the world originated as a result of an Italian Supreme Court decision in 1999 that overturned a rape conviction because the female victim wore jeans. The Italian court reasoned that because the jeans were “tight,” the victim must have helped her attacker remove them, and that demonstrated consent.

Wearing jeans has since become an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault that place the blame on the victim and ignores the coercion, threats and violence that accompany sexual assault.

“Morris Cares, the Sexual Assault Center for Morris County deals directly with residents who are the unfortunate victims of brutal sexual violence, and provides victims of sexual assault, as well as their loved ones, with specialized care in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment; and provides primary prevention education to heighten awareness on issues of sexual violence and gender stereotype,’’ the Morris County Freeholders stated in a proclamation declaring April 24 as Denim Day.

The proclamation “calls attention to, and helps dispel the myths that still surround sexual assault, and to recognize the diligence of the many dedicated individuals, groups and agencies in the community who are working tirelessly to support sexual assault victims and their families and to prevent sexual violence.’’

According to the federal government:

  • Every two minutes in America someone is sexually assaulted.
  • Females 16 to 24 are four times more likely to be sexual assault victims than other age groups.
  • Persons under 18 years of age account for 67 percent of all sexual assaults reported to police, with children under 12 accounting for 34 percent and children under 6 accounting for 14 percent.
  • The majority of rapes, some 54 percent, will not be reported.
  • Only 1 of 4 reported rapes results in an arrest and only 1 in 4 arrests leads to a conviction.

Morris CARES marked New Jersey’s Seventh Annual Denim Day last Sunday with a free community event at the VFW Hall in Morris Plains with a free “Mind, Body & Spirit” event that included yoga and self-defense demonstrations, self-care initiatives, and booths providing educational resources. Also, survivors of sexual assault shared their stories.