By Maj. Avon D. CorneliusMay 2, 2014
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Soldiers and Civilians of the 311th Signal Command (Theater) and 516th Signal Brigade observed SAAM to raise awareness and prevent sexual violence in the military, through several unit activities to include a SAAM Run, Sexual Assault Stand Down and SHARP Bowling Tournament.
"The purpose of SAAM 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," said Master Sgt. Astrid Jones, the 311th SC (T) SARC .
"Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect," said Col. Cleophus Thomas, commander, 516th Signal Brigade. "We all are responsible for fostering climates of trust in the leadership and a culture where all allegations of inappropriate behavior are treated seriously, where a victims' privacy is protected, where bystanders are motivated to intervene, and where offenders know that they will be held accountable."
The month's activities culminated with Denim Day, where members of the command were encouraged to wear denim to raise awareness about sexual assault.
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.
"You are either part of the solution or part of the problem," said Thomas. "Take care of one another."