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April Is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and The Refuge Sexual Assault Center in Vidalia is participating in the Jeans for Justice Campaign to help spread awareness to end sexual violence. The Jeans for Justice Campaign began with a 1999 court case in High Italian Court. A rape conviction was overturned because the victim was wearing jeans. A 45 yearold driving instructor was accused and found guilty of sexually assaulting his 18-year-old student during a driving lesson; however, the case was overturned in appeals court with the argument that tight jeans can only be removed with a woman's consent. The court ruled that 'it is common knowledge that jeans cannot be even partly removed without the effective help of the person wearing them, and it is impossible if the victim is struggling with all her might.' Italian women wore jeans in parliament to protest the appeal, and the campaign has spread worldwide in the years since.

The Refuge is a nonprofit organization, which provides 24-hour emergency temporary shelter and services in South Georgia for victims of family violence and sexual assault with a commitment to also serve non-English speaking victims. The Refuge serves the immediate primary needs of the clients including food, clothing, legal advocacy, mental health assistance, and referral for medical care.

The Refuge interfaces with local, state, and national resources; provides transitional assistance along with re-education of the victim and family in order to promote a nonviolent lifestyle; and educates all aspects of the local community regarding family violence and sexual assault.

Individuals and businesses can join the campaign against sexual assault by purchasing a Jeans for Justice t-shirt, and wearing it on Wednesday, April 27, along with jeans to help spread awareness. All proceeds will benefit The Refuge's Sexual Assault Center.

To order a t-shirt, contact the Refuge Sexual Assault Center (www. therefugeshelter,org or on Facebook). The order deadline is April 13.

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