FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (April 26, 2023) – On a sunny spring day, Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center staff and community members wore their denims to bring awareness and show solidarity, and support for victims of sexual assault and harassment at the Annual Denim Day Walk in observance of the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
The annual Denim Day campaign started after a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans, reasoning that she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.
The day following that decision the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence, a non-profit, feminist; multicultural, volunteer organization dedicated to a building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence, developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it.
Since then, what started as a local campaign to bring awareness to victim blaming and destructive myths that surround sexual violence has grown into a global movement.
Col. James Maker, Commander, MEDDAC, Fort George G. Meade, addressed the Kimbrough staff and participants. "I appreciate everybody coming out," he said, "dressing out with us in solidarity this day, for that victim and other victims."
As the longest running sexual violence prevention and education campaign in history, Denim Day asks community members, elected officials, businesses, and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means to protest the misconceptions that surround sexual violence.
Maker also emphasized that sexual harassment/assault is still an issue, still a challenge, and still a problem across our nation, and in the Department of Defense. Nevertheless, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and chain of commands continue to advocate and renew their commitment to fighting against this pervasive issue and helping to prevent sexual harassments and assaults.
“We are seeing an increase in reporting,” said Maker. “As this may seem like an indication that we have an increase in problems, but this is a movement in the right direction – it’s an indication that those who suffer from sexual assault/harassment, that we are here to support them.”
This year, the Army's theme for 2023 SAAPM campaign is “Intervene. We Are a Team: There is US in TrUSt. Can They Trust in You?” The campaign highlights the importance of building a culture of trust through intervention and prevent unwanted sexual behavior.