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.
In a new 95-page report, Human Rights Watch documents 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.
Farmworkers described experiences such as the following:
- A woman in California reported that a supervisor at a lettuce company raped her and later told her that she “should remember it’s because of him that [she has] this job.”
- A woman in New York said that a supervisor, when she picked potatoes and onions, would touch women’s breasts and buttocks. If they tried to resist, he would threaten to call immigration or fire them.
- Four women who had worked together packing cauliflower in California said a supervisor would regularly expose himself and make comments like, “[That woman] needs to be fucked!” When they tried to defend one young woman whom he singled out for particular abuse, he fired all of them.
© 2011 AP Photo
Over a lifetime, nearly one in two women will be victims of sexual violence. The Violence Against Women Act empowers local communities to fight back, providing essential resources to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
The law has been an unqualified success. Since its passage in 1994, women killed by an intimate partner have decreased 34%.
But unless Congress reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act this year, all of this progress could be reversed. The new version of the bill not only continues proven programs, but extends protections to more people, including those in same-sex relationships.
Sign the petition to tell Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. And please reblog/share!
. (by Emmanuel Smague)
A brothel in Bangladesh
“Darkness as a place of birth and life, girls and women whose body doesn’t belong to them, a stolen childhood…the story of a brothel in Bangladesh.
While the brothel is sanctioned by the state, the corruption is ubiquitous because everything that goes on within the walls is illegal : underage girls, procuring, drugs, and alcohol.
The prostitutes were born here or sold by their family, with girls as young as 10 years old. From then on, it’s a never-ending spiral. Most of the prostitutes use Oradexon, a dangerous medicine that artificially fattens them and makes them more desirable. The clients like them better that way. “Designed” as a product, they are exploited daily. But that business is also riddled with violence and retaliation : for a girl to be hit in the face by an unsatisfied client, or disfigured by competing gangs because she is too beautiful is part of the job. Leaving this maze can be hoped for but hope for these women often disappears in a drug-induced haze.
Most of them have no one to tell their story to, and what they have to say is simply heartbreaking. So the camera was a pretext to go meet them and listen. As I was walking among the houses one day, I came to a closed door. In front of it were two pairs of shoes, a man’s and a woman’s, left there for the duration of the trick – performed in silence like all of them – and I could hear the muezzin’s call for prayer from the mosque afar, like a call to order.
Next to this neighborhood, an NGO works with children and teenagers coming from the brothel. That structure allows for children from age three to get out of that blind alley. It gives them an education, and for the young girls the possibility to stay overnight not to go back to the brothel. And that safe haven feels like a breath of air. It is for the girls but it also was for me. And I will always remember the radiant faces, the smiles that are not for sale, the women who have escaped a life of misery.”