Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sexual Violence in the Farmworker Field


"Cultivating Fear": Human Rights Watch releases withering report on the "high risk of sexual violence, harassment faced by farmworkers in the U.S."

Report can be found online; watch the video at CIW website...
Last month, Human Rights Watch published a landmark report on sexual harassment and violence in the fields. It is a valuable document that recounts, in stark language, the world of abuse and humiliation that faces women who have to work in the fields in order to put food on their families' tables. Here is an excerpt from the press release announcing the report:
"(New York) – Hundreds of thousands of immigrant farmworker women and girls in the United States face a high risk of sexual violence and sexual harassment in their workplaces because US authorities and employers fail to protect them adequately, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The current US Senate bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) would go some way toward fixing the problem and should be enacted, but much more needs to be done, Human Rights Watch said.
The 95-page report, “Cultivating Fear: The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment,” describes rape, stalking, unwanted touching, exhibitionism, or vulgar and obscene language by supervisors, employers, and others in positions of power. Most farmworkers interviewed said they had experienced such treatment or knew others who had. And most said they had not reported these or other workplace abuses, fearing reprisals. Those who had filed sexual harassment claims or reported sexual assault to the police had done so with the encouragement and assistance of survivor advocates or attorneys in the face of difficult challenges..." read more
You can find the report here: In English; In Spanish
You can also watch a brief video on the report at the CIW website:
The Fair Food Program (FFP) is a powerful weapon against sexual harassment and violence in the Florida tomato industry. Combining worker-to-worker education with a protected complaint system and a staff of monitors dedicated to investigating workers' complaints, the FFP is a much-needed front-line defense that is today -- complaint by complaint, investigation by investigation -- making Florida's tomato fields a more humane place to work for female farmworkers.
Much remains to be done to be able to claim victory against sexual harassment in the state's tomato industry, but finally, after nearly two decades of struggle, the pieces are in place -- the most important being informed, empowered farmworkers themselves -- to make endemic sexual violence a thing of the past in Florida's tomato fields. Finally, workers have the tools to combat this contemptible crime.
For more on the Fair Food Program, you can go here, or you can listen to this recent interview, broadcast last week on Public Radio International's Living Earth program, with the CIW's Greg Asbed.
And, of course, to help expand the Fair Food Program, you can click on the links below:
E-Action Alerts: Make your voice heard today in the fight for Fair Food! Sign the online petitions:
Chipotle (sumofus.org)
Publix (change.org)
Thanks - Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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