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Field of Calzones

A shame and a travesty as female farmworkers suffer from sexual harassment

By M. Reyna
Published on LatinoLA: December 17, 2008


Field of Calzones


As if though the work, working conditions and pay was not enough ...

It is estimated that about 400.000 women are working in the U.S. fields and packing sheds. The average pays about $11,000 per year.

It is a shame and travesty, that these hard working women are often victims of sexual harassment and rape

Cases have been reported from Florida to California

Workers in Salinas, CA refer to one company's land as "field de calzones" (field of panties) because so many supervisors rape women in there.

In Florida, workers call the farm where they work "The Green Motel" because they are expected to lie down between the rows of plantings.

A worker from Iowa settled a class action against an employer. She told her lawyer ' We thought it was normal in the U.S. that you had to have sex to keep your job."

Many women do not report the incidents or rape at risk of scrutiny and deportation. This is a problem that is affecting thousands of undocumented women who are outnumbered twenty to one in the fields.

A young woman if Florida reported of watching men sexually assault a member of her family and threatened that if she reported the assault they would come after her, too.

There is help for women: Monica Ramirez is leading an effort to weed out the fear in the fields.
She founded Esperanza, the country's first nonprofit organization who's goal is to end sexual assault and harassment of female workers, who has also joined with Southern Poverty Law Center to create a network of lawyers, law enforcement, social workers and religious leaders serving women in twenty four states.

To learn more about Esperanza visit: splcenter.org.

This story was reported in Marie Clair magazine-by Rebecca Clarren.

About M. Reyna:
Maria Reyna-varied artist, painter, poet story teller
Author's website
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