Denim Day Draws Masses

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Event to raise awareness about sexual violence gets wide support

Hundreds of supporters came out to City Hall last week, clad in denim, to kick off Denim Day, an international movement which aims to raise awareness about sexual assault.

Numerous elected officials including presidents from each borough, and community based organizations including the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, the YWCA, the Center Against Domestic Violence and more rallied on the steps of City Hall to demonstrate the significance of Denim Day.

April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Denim Day was a small but important piec. Denim Day originated in protest of a court ruling in Italy which claimed a woman could not possibly have been raped because "her jeans were too tight."

"We have zero tolerance for sexual assault and respect starts with all of us," said Borough President Scott Stringer.

Julissa Ferreras, chair of the City Council's committee on women's issues, called last week's turnout on the steps of City Hall the largest yet.

"There's nothing fairer than a woman getting justice for rape, regardless of what she's wearing," said Ferreras. "Women cannot fight this alone."

Ferreras pointed to the disturbing statistic that 18 percent of women in our country have been raped.

"I'm five months pregnant with a boy," said Ferreras. "He'd be wearing jeans today if he could. It's never too soon to educate."

Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito said as long as women are not seen as equals, sexual violence will persist.

"Unequal pay sets a paradigm," explained Mark-Viverito. "Media representations also translate."

Madeline McKnight, a college student from Manhattan, was presented an award at the rally for an insightful essay she wrote on the subject sexual violence (read her op-ed on page TBD).

Community participants and elected officials were quick to point out rape is not the only act of violence which must be eradicated. They noted we must work to put an end to domestic violence as well as street harassment, which is rampant in the City.

"Street harassment also plays a role," said Ferreras. "A woman should not have to worry every time she walks past a construction site or a bodega. We also stand against this."

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