“Well, what were they wearing? They were probably asking for it.”
Statements like this are a huge reason why survivors of sexual assault do not come forward. Victim blaming is an enormous problem not only at a social level, but even within our legal system.
Denim Day was invented to challenge that.
An Italian Supreme Court decision overturned a rape conviction due to the belief that because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped him take them off. Due to the Court believing that this implied consent, supporters of survivors around the world have stood in solidarity by wearing denim every last Wednesday of April.
This year is the 24th annual Denim Day, and while the movement has gained much more traction, there is still much work to be done.
One of the most popular defenses in rape cases is to blame the victim insinuating that they must have done something to provoke the rapist.
This argument almost refers to rape as a consequence, saying maybe if the victim had dressed modestly this would not have happened to them.
Let us get one thing clear: It is never the victim’s fault in a rape case.
If someone is a rapist, they will commit those acts regardless of what someone is wearing, what state of mind they are in, how well they know the victim and so on.
Victim blaming solves nothing. If anything, it makes the situation worse because if it is successful, the rapist can walk free and may do it again to someone else.
Clothes cannot give consent, only the wearer can do that. And even if the wearer initially gives consent, they can also take it away.
Victim blaming also adds to the idea that people dress for attention rather than for themselves. People should be able to dress how they want without worrying about their safety.
This Denim Day, we need to stand with survivors.
Victims of sexual assault are all around us, and we need to be there for them personally, socially and legally.
This is also a reminder to take the time to look up what consent really looks like. If it is not an enthusiastic “yes,” it may actually be a “no.”