Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 was Denim Day. NBACL had a special “jeans day” to call attention to the topic of sexual abuse and people who have a disability. Here’s the story.
In the 1990s, an 18 year old Italian girl was sexually assaulted by her driving instructor. Initially, he was charged, convicted and sent to jail; however, the conviction was overturned by the Italian Supreme Court. The justices felt that because the victim’s jeans were so tight, she must have assisted the assailant in the removal of her jeans, therefore implying consent.
The following day, in outrage and protest of the decision, the women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans to work. To continue the conversation about the importance of consent and to honour victims of sexual assault, people around the world recognize Denim Day each year.
On Wednesday, April 26th the staff of NBACL will be participating in Denim Day 2017, because, according to Statistics Canada (2007):
- Canadian girls and women with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other girls and women. Canadian boys and men with disabilities are between 4-10 times more likely.
- During their lifetimes, 83% of women and 40% of men with intellectual disabilities are sexually abused.
- Before they turn 18, 40 to 70 per cent of girls with intellectual disabilities will be sexually exploited.
- 49% of those persons who have been sexually abused will experience it 10 or more times.
- In 97% of cases, persons know their abusers: more than 45% of the assailants are doctors, teachers, caregivers, and others related to disability supports and more than 30% are parents, family members and friends.
- Fewer than 4% of sexual assaults on women and girls with an intellectual disability are reported; even less are charged.
- The Evidence Act allows defense lawyers to challenge a person’s mental capacity to understand what it means to take an oath to tell the truth and promise not to tell a lie. Those with intellectual disabilities are the only people other than children who can be questioned about their understanding of the duty to tell the truth.
- Many education programs teach persons with intellectual disabilities compliance, leaving them further vulnerable.
Please join us next year for for Denim Day 2018. Together, we can raise awareness and make a difference!