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Don Your Best Denim for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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Forget casual Fridays. Wednesday, April 29, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and the Women's and Children's Alliance are asking Boiseans to wear jeans for Denim Day as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Denim Day stems from a 1992 Italian criminal case in which a driving instructor accused of raping a student but was exonerated after his defense successfully argued that he could not have raped the girl since she was wearing tight jeans, and the instructor could not have removed the jeans without the victim's complicity—and consent.

The so-called "denim defense" has been invalidated in Italy since 2008, but the incident itself gave birth to a day when people all over the world wear denim to raise awareness of sexual assault and rape culture. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, someone in America is sexually assaulted every two minutes, and one in six women nationally will be the victim of rape in her lifetime. 

More than 25 organizations across the Treasure Valley have offered to participate in Denim Day, including the Boise Police Department, Ada County Paramedics and United Way of Treasure Valley, and at Boise State University, the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity will distribute Denim Day materials like stickers and information to students on the Boise State quad from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. that day.

Some experts, including Dr. Caroline Heldman, have said that Boise State—along with other institutions of higher learning across the United States—has a significant problem with underreporting sex crimes. According to Heldman, one in five women attending university will be sexually assaulted during their time there. That's far higher than the national average. She also told an audience at the Andrus Center for Public Policy's Politics for Lunch series that she estimates that at Boise State, there were about 220 sexual attacks at Boise State in a given school year, though only four were reported in 2010, six in 2011 and six in 2012.