VALDOSTA -- Local business employees plan to wear blue jeans to make a point, not a fashion statement.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and employees of community businesses will wear blue jeans on April 20 for the annual "Jeans for Justice" fund-raiser.

Participants are asked to donate $1 to wear jeans to work. Packets of information containing rape statistics and the local Haven services will be given out to all participants in addition to stickers that are to be worn throughout the day.

"It's done to raise awareness about rape," said Mandy Rowe, director of The Haven Rape Crisis Center. "We need to raise awareness about rape, which is a violent crime against women, and show that clothing is not a factor."

The "Jeans for Justice" fund-raiser came about when a Italian judge overruled a rape case because the female victim's jeans were too tight. The judge found the defendant not guilty because he agreed that the woman must have assisted in removing her pants.

All of the fund-raiser's proceeds will go towards the operation and maintenance of the Valdosta Haven Rape Crisis Center, which is a non-profit organization that assisted approximately 85 rape victims last year alone, according to Rowe.

Last year more than 1,200 people participated and raised about $1,200 that went toward purchasing equipment for the examination room at the crisis center in addition to general supplies needed for basic maintenance.

The Haven hopes for an even better outcome this time considering it is the second year the Valdosta and Lowndes County area will participate in the fund-raiser.

"We would like everyone and all of the businesses to participate and support our program and its cause," Rowe said.

Currently there are only a handful of businesses that have registered to participate and receive their "Jeans for Justice" packet. Rowe said other establishments have until April 19 to sign up, and all money is due as soon as possible after April 20.

For information or to register to participate in "Jeans for Justice," call Mandy Rowe at 244-3176.

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