New Yorkers are encouraged to wear jeans tomorrow in support of sexual assault victims.

 

Politicians and advocates rallied today on the steps of City Hall for Denim Day, which kicks off tomorrow.

 

The day highlights sexual assault and dating violence, encouraging people to wear jeans while making the point that no clothing is ever an invitation to sexual crimes.

 

Organizers said the event stems from a 1990s Italian Supreme Court case, where a judge said the victim's tight jeans meant that she probably helped her attacker remove them.

 

"We are more than what we wear," Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James said. "We should not be defined by what we wear, and we should not be objectified."

 

A December report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that one in five women in the United States have been raped.

"The numbers are astounding," Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said.

Ferreras, who wore jeans to the event and has sponsored Council hearings about street harassment, said that clothing can sometimes invite an unwelcome reaction on the street.

"These jeans unfortunately sometimes become a signal of how much we're going to get harassed on that day," she said.

Dozens of men and women packed the steps of City Hall from groups like the Joyful Heart Foundation, headed by "Law & Order: SVU" actress Mariska Hargitay, which helps victims of sexual assault.

About 80 percent of victims experienced their first rape before the age of 25, according to the CDC report, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Rape has increased 4 percent this year, according to NYPD statistics, from 365 so at this time last year, to 380 as of April 8, according to NYPD data.

Misdemeanor sexual crimes, like groping, also increased 15 percent, from 757 to 873.

Recently, a so-called "dapper groper" was grabbing women uptown, and in March, former NYPD officer Michael Pena was convicted of sexually assaulting a teacher by gunpoint as she was on her way to work.



Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
will host a self-defense workshop Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Marta Valle High School, on the Lower East Side.

"This is not right," he said at City Hall. "This is not acceptable."