As part of the installation's observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Fort Meade, Md., will celebrate Denim Day on April 25, 2012.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (April 19, 2012) -- As part of the installation's observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Fort Meade will celebrate Denim Day on April 25.

Denim Day is an annual campaign to help raise awareness about sexual assault and rape.

Fort Meade organizations are encouraged to join the observance and allow service members and civilians to wear denim.

The movement began after an 18-year-old woman was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor in Italy in 1998.

The driving instructor was convicted of rape and sentenced. The ruling, however, was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court because the pants worn by the woman were too tight.

It determined that she must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, making the act consensual and not rape.

The Italian Supreme Court chief judge stated in the decision that "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex," according to Peace Over Violence, an organizer of Denim Day.

"It just shows the mentality that some people still have internationally about this issue," said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Pardue, Fort Meade's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program manager.

This ruling sparked international protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian legislature protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read: "Jeans: An Alibi for Rape."

Wearing jeans has become an international symbol of protest against destructive attitudes about sexual assault.

In 1999, California celebrated the first Denim Day in the United States. Since then, at least 20 states officially recognize Denim Day on April 25.

Page last updated Thu April 19th, 2012 at 12:42