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Denim Day to be Observed April 24

Charlotte, N.C., - April 17, 2013 – Johnson C. Smith University will support, honor and promote Denim Day at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during national Women’s Health Week. Denim Day will be observed on April 24 at more than 11 HBCUs.

The Wright Group, a philanthropic health and human services consulting agency, and The Ending Violence Against Women: The HBCU Project, are co-sponsoring the activities.

This is Johnson C. Smith University’s first year participating in Denim Day. Layla Bluefort, violence prevention case manager with the I Matter violence prevention coalition, is organizing Denim Day at JCSU. Funded through the Department of Justice Violence Against Women, I Matter offers programs and services to raise awareness about stalking, domestic/dating violence and sexual assault. The coalition also provides emotional support and survivor advocacy to university students. Bluefort is collaborating with the Collegiate Sisters for Action, Social Work Club and JCSU’s local NABSW chapter.

The purpose of Denim Day is to contest the idea that the way a woman dresses influences whether or not she is more apt to be raped. The event coincides with National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is observed in April. Denim Day USA is a non-profit diverse, volunteer group dedicated to building and promoting healthy relationships and communities absent of sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.

 On Tuesday, April 22, JCSU will host a Pre-Denim Day at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the Mary Taylor Crisp Student Union Rotunda to educate students about the observance and the concept of “having my sister’s back.” The presentation will focus on how bystander intervention and sisterhood can assist with sexual assault prevention. Students will meet the following day at 12:30 p.m. outside Biddle Hall wearing their Denim Day t-shirt and jeans to participate in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.  The walk is an international event where men march one mile wearing a pair of high heels to raises awareness about the causes, effects and remedies for sexual assault and domestic violence. Women are also welcome to participate.  

Layla F. Bluefort, who is also an alumna of JCSU, said the purpose of Denim Day and Walk A Mile in Her Shoes is to talk about sexual assault and educate students on healthy relationships and sexual consent. “The walk is a way for them to stand up and show they are against domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault,” she said. During this event, Bluefort will also introduce the I Matter team to the JCSU community.  For more information about I Matter send an email to Bluefort at lfbluefort@jcsu.edu or call 704-378-3550.

The History of Denim

In 1992, an 18-year old girl was picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her first lesson. He took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully raped her. Threatened with death if she told anyone, he made her drive the car home. Later that night she told her parents, and they helped and supported her to press charges. The perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.

He appealed the sentence and the case made it to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days the case against the driving instructor was overturned, dismissed and the perpetrator released. The statement released by the Chief Judge declared; "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."

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 23 fields of study to more than 1,600 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit www.jcsu.edu or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and  http://pinterest.com/jcsu/  

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