One in 5 women, and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, and more than 90 percent of victims do not report the assaults. Sexual assault is an issue that happens worldwide between men and women, and April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Sexual assault activists have been raising awareness about it since the ‘70s, but lawmakers have only recently began to acknowledge the month. April 2001 was the first time the U.S. has observed this month as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Denim Day, a campaign that honors Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was created in response to Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign was triggered by a ruling made by the Italian Supreme Court when a victim’s case was overturned due to her decision to wear tight jeans. The day after, women who were apart of the Italian Parliament wore tight jeans to work in solidarity with the victim. The group “Peace over Violence” started the Denim Day campaign, and every year in April for the last 18 years, it has continued as a symbol of protest against the attitudes toward sexual assault.
Although this year’s Denim Day is April 26, Xavier is taking part by participating in the campaign a few days earlier, on April 19. Chantel Gant, a counselor at the Xavier Counseling and Wellness Center, said the group of counselors were concerned about student’s schedule conflicting with the 26.
“We have the event on April 19 because we were concerned that students may have lab finals and be preparing for finals,” Gant said. “We did not want that to turn anyone away from the event. We know as it gets closer to finals, it may be more high stress.” After the day’s activities there will be a panel discussion from 6-8p.m.in the Uc Gallery. It will speak on sexual assault with many local agencies present at the discussion. The Counseling and Wellness Center is also hosting an event called “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes,” which will be held on April 20th in the UC on the first floor from 3-5p.m.
Gant said, “Anyone can participate in ‘Walk A Mile in Her Shoes.’ Really, the name of the event should be ‘Walk A Mile in My Shoes’ because anyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation can be impacted by sexual assault.” Students can use Denim Day as a fashion statement, as well as a way to speak up on the attitudes towards sexual assault, and join them April 20 in ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes.’