Denim Day: Rally for Respect 

Move over iron underoos, according to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome, jeans are the new chastity belt. In 1999, Italy's highest court overturned a 45-year-old driving instructor's rape conviction on the grounds that his 18-year-old victim was wearing jeans. Jeans, you ask? According to defense lawyers, the victim must have given consent, otherwise her tight jeans couldn't have been removed. In protest, women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans to show solidarity.

"This case really spurred a lot of action throughout the world. Denim is a symbol because of the case, but we hear it all the time, 'Well, she drank too much' or 'She shouldn't have been walking alone' or 'She was asking for it because she was really friendly,'" said Kathryn Johnson, communications director at Women's and Children's Alliance. "Victim blaming just should not exist."

Now, as a part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, a coalition of local groups--the WCA, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Boise State Women's Center, Boise State Gender Rights Network, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Idaho Women's Network, Family Advocacy Center and Education Services, Ada County Victim Witness Coordinators and the Boise Police Victim Witness Coordinators--will throw on jeans and gather on the south steps of the Idaho Capitol to raise awareness of sexual assault in the community. According to Boise Police Department records, 66 rapes and 95 sexual assaults were documented in 2009 alone. And that doesn't count the victims who never spoke up.

"We're targeting employers, letting them know that maybe they should encourage their employees to come down and hear because they might have been a victim like this before, where they didn't say anything because they were afraid of victim blaming," said Johnson. "That's the message: victim blaming is a problem in these cases, judicially and socially. We're trying to end that."

Wednesday, April 14, Noon-1 p.m., FREE, south steps of the Idaho Capitol, 208-343-3688,

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