Stop Sexual Harassment of Immigrant Farmworkers

  • by: Carin Cowell
  • recipient: Congress of the United States of America

Hundreds of thousands of immigrant farmworkers are being sexually harassed by their supervisors.

A recent report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has revealed that vulnerable girls and women, immigrants often with limited English, are victims of widespread abuse such as rape, stalking, unwanted touching, exhibitionism, or vulgar and obscene language as common occurrences.

Many victims are too afraid to report the crimes, are unaware of their rights or do not have the resources. One woman reported being raped by her supervisor and then being told that she “should remember it’s because of him that [she has] this job.” Another worker revealed that the supervisor would touch the women’s breasts and buttock whilst they were picking potatoes and onions. He threatened to call immigration or fire them if they didn’t let him have his way.

HRW has called on Congress for stronger protection for immigrant women, including the strengthening of the Violence Against Women Act. Sign to stop the abuse.

TO: All members of the Congress of the United States of America; all Senators and Members of the House of Representatives

We, the undersigned, support the call by Human Rights Watch for more protection for immigrant farmworkers from abuse by their employers. As stated in their report, “Cultivating Fear: The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment,” the practice of sexual abuse by supervisors is widespread. Many victims are afraid of reporting these crimes for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.

These young girls and women have the same rights as any other worker in the US. The US government must take steps to ensure that they receive the protection that they deserve. This includes:

          • Passing the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill (S. 1952) or similar legislation, which would provide specific funding and attention to survivors of sexual assault, including stronger protections for immigrant farmworker women and girls.

          • Enacting immigration legislation that would reduce the incidence of serious abuse of immigrant workers’ rights, including by reforming the existing agricultural guest worker program and creating a program of earned legalization for the unauthorized farmworkers already in the US.

          • Eliminating the exclusion of farmworkers from important laws providing labor protections like the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Thank you for your attention.

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