SAN DIEGO – Sailors assigned to the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) wore jeans to work April 29 in recognition of “Denim Day” to support Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Lake Erie’s crew decided to show the command’s united effort to end sexual assault once and for all by participating in the worldwide event which can be traced back to 1997 in Italy.
“For me, the history of the cause makes it such a powerful way to get this important message across,” said Cryptologic Technician Collection 1st Class Jonathan Minton. “I am proud to be able to participate in this day and I hope the tradition carries on as more people get educated so we can remove sexual violence from our Navy and the world.”
Training conducted was part of a month long effort to raise awareness and provide education to help stamp out sexual violence in the fleet. Sailors were also encouraged to talk about ways to stop sexual assault and address common misconceptions and myths surrounding the issue.
The training helped illustrate the fact that everyone in the military, regardless of rank, is affected by rape and sexual assault. The Navy is no place for the harm of Sailors, and Lake Erie encourages Sailors to treat everyone with respect and dignity.
“I hate sexual assault as much as I love my jeans,” said Quartermaster 3rd Class Chase Younglas when asked why he wore jeans to work.
Denim Day was created to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault based on an Italian court case. In 1997, the Italian High Court addressed a sexual assault case involving an 18-year-old girl and her 45-year-old driving instructor. During their first lesson, the instructor raped the young girl and left her in the alley.
At the trial the judge argued "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but considered consensual sex."
The ruling triggered a worldwide protest which started with women in the Italian Parliament showing their support by wearing jeans to work. Since that time, Denim Day has spread across the entire world as a day-long event focusing on sexual assault awareness and prevention.
The officers and crew of Lake Erie incorporate meaningful Sexual Assault Prevention and Response training throughout the year with the hopeful outlook that someday the Navy will be free of sexual assault.