FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Members of the 311th Signal Command (Theater) and 516th Signal Brigade commemorated Sexual Assault Awareness Month through a week of activities on Fort Shafter to raise awareness and prevent sexual violence in the military.
For our nation, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month or SAAM, an annual campaign to educate communities on the prevention of sexual violence.
"For us, it is more than just a month of training and activities. It's about looking after your buddy," said Col. Kimberly Rapacz, chief of staff, 311th SC (T). "It is about awareness for everyone to look after one another and think about what we can do to help prevent sexual assault."
The week's activities kicked off with the SAAM Walk/Run on Fort Shafter Flats for Soldiers and families to facilitate better communication within our formation and the community in order to stop sexual, child and domestic violence. On Denim Day, Apr. 23, members of the command were encouraged to wear denim to raise awareness about sexual assault. The 311th SC (T) Sexual Assault Response Coordinator teamed with the 516th Signal Brigade SARC to hand out brochures, pamphlets, cards, and educate those who passed by their Community Awareness booth at the Fort Shafter Market. The week culminated with a Sexual Assault Awareness Brief at the Fort Shafter dining facility. A panel of sexual assault experts discussed their roles in dealing with sexual assault cases and answered questions.
Denim Day began in 1992 after a woman wearing jeans was raped by her driving instructor in Italy. The woman pressed charges and won her case. The instructor appealed and the Italian High Court overturned the conviction. One member of the High Court stated since the woman was wearing tight jeans that the instructor could not have removed them himself; therefore the victim must have willingly participated. The women of the Italian legislature protested the decision by wearing denim. In April 1999 California established the first Denim Day in the United States.
The Sexual Harassment/Assault Prevention and Response Program was started in 2012 by the Department of Defense to create a culture free of sexual assault through an environment of prevention, education and training. SARCs are tasked with helping the DoD achieve that goal.
"The purpose of the SHARP program is to promote a culture in which we reduce sexual harassment/assault risks before they occur, introduce meaningful prevention activities, facilitate and coordinate compassionate response to victims and their family members in the 311th community," said Master Sgt. Roberta Dawson, the 311th SC (T) SARC.