IN THE NEWS
Jessica Van Vleet (center), wife of Staff Sgt. Patrick Van Vleet, an infantrymen with 173rd Airborne Brigade, walks with her two children during an International Denim Day walk, held at Caserma Ederle, April 28. The walk was coordinated by members of Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the U.S. Army Garrison Italy Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program to raise rape prevention awareness within the community. (U.S. Army Africa photo by Staff Sgt. Lance Pounds)
By Staff Sgt. Lance Pounds, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs
VICENZA, Italy - On a cool April day, a mother pushes her young daughter in a stroller as her son walks alongside. In her mind, she is not only helping to raise awareness to sexual assault, she is setting an example for her children.
“If someone approaches my children I want them to be able to say ‘no’,” said Jessica Van Vleet, wife of Staff Sgt. Patrick Van Vleet, an infantrymen with 173rd Airborne Brigade. “By doing this walk, it shows them that I care.”
More than 100 Vicenza Military Community residents participated in an International Denim Day walk, held at Caserma Ederle, April 28. The walk was coordinated by members of Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the U.S. Army Garrison Italy Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program to raise awareness within the community.
International Denim Day is an observance which came about from an incident which took place in Rome, Italy.
In a 1992 case involving rape, the Italian Supreme Court ruled the victim, a teenage girl, must have given consent to her attacker, a driving instructor, because she was wearing tight denim jeans and would have had to voluntarily remove them, making the act consensual and not rape.
The ruling sparked widespread protest. Following the decision, women from the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding signs, which read “Jeans: An alibi for rape.”
As a result, during International Denim Day, people world-wide show their support by wearing jeans.
Spc. Stacy Lewis, a geospatial engineer with 517th Geospatial Engineer Detachment, USARAF, said the story behind the event compelled her to participate.
“It is important to be out here in support of all victims affected by such heinous acts,” said Lewis.
Lewis said she found out about the event while visiting a SHARP display table with patches of denim, markers and glitter paint on it. She picked up glitter paint and designed a patch symbolizing her support for rape victims, while a SHARP representative told her the story behind the walk.