The Morris County Board of Freeholders, along with Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp, have joined an international campaign to raise awareness and educate the public about the intolerable violent crime of sexual assault by declaring this Saturday, April 29, 2017, as “Denim Day’’ in Morris County.
The freeholders this morning presented a formal proclamation for Denim Day to Prosecutor Knapp and Emily Elias, community and education outreach coordinator for Morris CARES, a program of Atlantic Health Systems and the designated sexual assault center for Morris County.
Also attending the freeholders’ work session this morning in Morristown were Alexis Rachel, Sexual Assault Response Team coordinator for Atlantic Health, and key members of the Prosecutor’s Office.
“The Freeholders want to put the spotlight on a serious problem in our society – one that can affect any person or any family at any time, and especially targets women: that is, sexual abuse,’’ said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana.
“We also are recognizing the diligence of many dedicated persons, groups, and agencies in Morris County who work to support sexual assault victims and their families, and who work to prevent these horrible assaults,’’ he added.
“The plight of the victims of sexual assault is one we take extremely seriously,’’ said Prosecutor Knapp. We commemorate Denim Day so that we do not victimize the survivors and victims of sexual assault once again.”
The Denim Day campaign originated as a result of an Italian Supreme Court decision in 1999 that overturned a rape conviction because the female victim wore jeans. The Italian court reasoned that because the jeans were “tight,” the victim must have helped her attacker remove them, and that demonstrated consent.
Wearing jeans has since become an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault that place the blame on the victim and ignores the coercion, threats and violence that accompany sexual assault.
The proclamation “calls attention to, and helps dispel the myths that still surround sexual assault, and to recognize the diligence of the many dedicated individuals, groups and agencies in the community who are working tirelessly to support sexual assault victims and their families and to prevent sexual violence.’’
According to the federal government:
• Every two minutes in someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S.
• Females 16 to 24 are four times more likely to be sexual assault victims than other age groups.
• Persons under 18 years of age account for 67 percent of all sexual assaults reported to police, with children under 12 accounting for 34 percent and children under 6 accounting for 14 percent.
• The majority of rapes, some 54 percent, are not reported.
• Only one of four reported rapes results in an arrest and only one in four arrests leads to a conviction.
Morris CARES will mark Denim Day on Sunday with a free community event from 12 noon to 3 p.m.at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum on East Hanover Avenue in Morris Township (across the street from the Morris County Library). The free event will include yoga and self-defense demonstrations, self-care initiatives, and booths providing educational resources, plus survivors of sexual assault will share their stories.
For more information on sexual violence in our state and nation, please visit the following:
To contact Morris CARES call 973- 971-4754 or email Emily Elias at [email protected]ealth.org
To reach the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, visit: https://prosecutor.morriscountynj.gov/