Kansas Denim Day, April 23: Health department works to prevent sexual violence

TOPEKA – April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month and one way the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is recognizing the month is by participating in Denim Day on April 23.

Denim Day is a response to a 1999 Italian Supreme Court ruling that overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has been a symbol of support for victims of sexual violence and protest against the idea that a victim could cause their own rape.

“Sexual violence is a major public health issue,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “Kansas women who experienced unwanted sex were more likely to have diagnosed depression, diagnosed anxiety, self-rated fair/poor health and thought about taking their lives in the past year.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime (2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey). In Kansas during 2011, nearly 1 in 10 women 18 years and older had experienced unwanted sex in their lifetime (2011 Kansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System).

“If you have been a victim of sexual assault either by a stranger, acquaintance or an intimate partner, know that there is help,” said Moser. “To find sexual and domestic violence help in your area, visit www.kcsdv.org or call the Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-363-2287.”

If your organization would like to participate in Kansas Denim Day contact Laurie Hart, Kansas Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program Manager, at [email protected] or 785-296-8476.

KDHE’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program provides resources and technical assistance to communities and schools to assist in the development, enhancement and evaluation of local sexual violence prevention and education initiatives. For more information on the Kansas Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program visit www.kdheks.gov/rpe.

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