Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and other elected officials donned denim on Wednesday morning to call for more to be done to end sexual assault in the city.
Bratton said sexual assault is something the NYPD takes “very, very seriously,” and called on the public to do their part in helping victims report sexual crimes to the authorities as soon as possible.
“We are committed to working and collaborating with all of you,” Bratton said. “None of us are missing in action.”
Denim Day is an annual call to action for sexual assault awareness. The day is named after an 1998 Italian Supreme Court case, in which a rape sentence was overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans.
Recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 1 in 5 women have been raped, and 1 in 2 women experienced some kind of sexual violence against them.
Many of the advocates who rallied behind officials, including Public Advocate Tish James and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, held signs reading messages such as “my body is sacred.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer remembered Ana Charle, the director of a Bronx homeless shelter who was allegedly shot and killed, and possibly sexually assaulted, by a former resident, West Spruill, on Monday.
“If that isn’t a reason to be here today, I don’t know what is,” Brewer said.
Elected officials called for support on a Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Campus Accountability & Safety Act to pass, and Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo touted a bill she is co-sponsoring that would put a panic button in the back of all New York City taxi and livery cabs “so a woman can feel safe traveling home late at night.”
Last December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office released the number of sexual assaults reported at campuses across New York State.
Charlene Rymsha, who is a graduate student at Fordham University, said she’s concerned about a lack of transparency when it comes to campus sexual violence.
“It’s my understanding that things aren’t talked about, and brushed under the rug,” Rymsha said. “I don’t actually know (how big an issue sexual assault is at Fordham), which is why I think it’s a really important issue, the fact that many us of aren’t aware of how big an issue it is.”
“It’s a huge problem, and it’s all about institutions wanting to protect themselves, instead of protecting the survivor,” said Pamela Kirsch, a social work student at Columbia University.