LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 18, 2014) — Any style, any color, it doesn’t matter, as long as you wear blue jeans today in support of Jeans for Justice, an international campaign aimed at raising public awareness and community action to end sexual assault.
In 1999, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans. To protest the decision, community members wore jeans to represent that it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, nobody deserves to be sexually assaulted.
A rally is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. today at the Student Center Patio for volunteer appreciation and a testimonial by Matthew Deffendall, director of First Generation Initiatives. Deffendall is a champion of non-violence, social justice and advocacy. Wearing jeans on this day helps build awareness of sexual assault and how it impacts all of us, he said.
In addition there is a faculty and staff training “Shaping a Violence Free Campus: Understanding Campus Response” scheduled April 23. In this session, the coordinated campus response to power-based personal violence will be discussed in-depth. This will include a panel of key campus stakeholders and a scenario-based discussion.
Participants will learn to recognize how power-based personal violence can change the dynamics in a class, office or department, as well as learning the skills to navigate challenging conversations about violence-related issues.
This training is appropriate for those who have never attended a VIP program in the past as well as those who have attended and would like a more in-depth look at campus resources and response.
“We must challenge ourselves to move beyond raising awareness,” said Rhonda Henry, intervention program coordinator for the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center at the University of Kentucky, “and start taking daily actions to end sexual assault.
“There are simple actions we can take to end sexual assault, such as believing survivors,” she said. “Every time we do not believe a survivor, we are essentially telling perpetrators that what they are doing is acceptable. This is a harmful message to be sending.
“Nobody asks for or deserves to be sexually assaulted. Perpetrators are responsible for their choice, and we as a society must make it very clear that sexual assault is not acceptable in our community.”