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Rape survivor’s message to heighten awareness during ‘Denim Day’

Brittany PiperPenn College will observe “National Denim Day” on Wednesday, when all members of the campus community are encouraged to wear jeans in solidarity and support of sexual violence survivors and to combat victim-blaming.

To kick off the event, which falls during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Office of Student Engagement is hosting Brittany Piper, who will present “Rape Culture: A Survivor’s Perspective” at 7 p.m. Monday in Penn’s Inn (Bush Campus Center, second floor). Piper, whose appearance is free and open to the public, was 20 when she was brutally raped by a man pretending to be a good Samaritan. Now, years later, she refuses to keep silent as she gently unravels a sensitive topic with audiences – empowering them to not only be part of the conversation, but also part of the solution.

Piper’s talk is part of a three-day program of advocacy and education at the college: Tuesday will feature information tables and giveaways, and a social media campaign on Wednesday invites departments to share jeans photos using the hashtags #penncollege and #DenimDay.

Denim Day originated with opposition to a 1992 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned the conviction of a rape perpetrator. Because the victim’s jeans were so tight, the court determined, she must have helped remove them in order for the rape to occur. That, the justices ruled, implied consent. Women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the Supreme Court, attracting international attention.

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