By Kerry-Ann Hamilton
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Denim Day: Howard Highlights Efforts to End Violence Against Women
Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted according to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization.
Today, Howard University along with students, faculty and staff at five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) participated in Denim Day, an event organized by Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW): The HBCU Project. EVAW is an initiative funded through the U.S. Department
of Heath and Human Services Office on Women’s Health which creates, promotes and implements programs that raise awareness around domestic and sexual violence experienced by women. More than 2,000 students from the six campuses participated.
“I want people to clearly understand that violence against women is real,” said Amelia Cobb, Founder and Director of EVAW. “One out of four women that we know will be or has been a victim of some form of violence in her lifetime, and a good education or six-figure salary does not exempt anyone.”
Denim Day was launched in 1999 as a project of Peace Over Violence, a non-profit, volunteer based organization whose mission is to develop healthy families and communities free from sexual and domestic violence. The project grew organically from the protest of an Italian High Court ruling that overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans. The women of the Italian Legislature vigorously protested the decision by wearing jeans to work, eventually drawing global attention to the issue.
Alpha Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. spearheaded Denim Day on campus. Their goal was to raise the decibel on an issue that many college women often struggle with in silence. Despite having to make logistical adjustments due to inclement weather, the task force followed through with their program- a series of short dramatic skits depicting examples of domestic violence among young women.
The Denim Day project has been a part of ongoing, combined efforts of the Howard chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and the EVAW Task Force to raise awareness and encourage dialogue about sexual and domestic violence. “We saw this as an opportunity to educate our campus, particularly women, about the various degrees of violence,” said Rogi Banks, the coordinator of Howard’s Denim Day event. “We encouraged students to take a stance and make a pledge to help end violence against women.”
“The Office of Student Activities felt it was important to support the efforts of our students and this very important day,” said Tonya Guillory, dean of Student Life and Activities. “I along with my entire staff wore “Denim Day” t-shirts and jeans to make our voices heard about this issue.”
Cobb is continuing to build awareness around this issue by partnering with the No Violence Against Women (NO VAW) celebrity messaging campaign currently underway. NOVAW specifically deals with education and awareness around campus rape and sexual assault. On Monday, April 19, students at the participating HBCUs will receive “NO VAW” pledge e-card messages from actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, Malaak Compton-Rock, wife of actor Chris Rock and radio personality, Olivia Fox, all of whom are Howard University alumni. Approximately two thousand students are expected to support these efforts by participating in the pledge and wearing jeans as a visible sign of support to end domestic violence against women.
The participating HBCUs include Hampton University, Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Lemoyne-Owen College.
For more information on EVAW or to participate in the NO VAW e-card pledge, Click Here to learn more.
Photo Caption: Howard University EVAW Task Force ~ L-R: Imani Pope-Johns, Sabrina Garba, Alize Beal, Kandace Barker, Fantasia Motley