How to Protect Female Farmworkers

There are several steps we can take to slow the scourge of sexual harassment among female farmworkers.

David Bacon, Jose R. Padilla
New York Times (NYT)
January 19, 2016

Tags: Farm and Migrant Workers, Immigration Process, Workers Rights

Organizations mentioned/involved: California Rural Legal Assistance Inc. (CRLA)


But perhaps the biggest impediment to fighting harassment in the fields is America’s immigration policy itself. Federal regulations forbid legal aid organizations like California Rural Legal Assistance from directly representing undocumented people, and the illegal nature of their work situations makes it difficult for them to come forward. Finding a path toward documentation and legal employment for these women would also empower them to report those who rape and harass them.

Last year, California Rural Legal Assistance settled a $1.3 million case for a farmworker who was assaulted in a raspberry field, and then sent back to work in her bloody and ripped clothes. “It’s the saddest thing that has happened to me in my life — for me it’s like a wound that’s there,” our client said during the sentencing phase of the case. “I just don’t know how I’ll be able to get out of this trauma.”