New Center for Investigative Reporting project tackles rape, harassment on America’s farms

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Screen shot of new reporting project by the Center for Investigative Reporting

A job at Evans Fruit Co. in central Washington means longer hours, more work and bigger paychecks.

The company ships 320 million pounds of apples annually and for immigrant workers, it is a desirable place to work.

Yet female workers have complained about sexual violence and harassment by an orchard foreman and crew bosses.  One woman took her complaints to court, where it was heard before a federal judge in a civil suit.

According to a new report released by the Center for Investigative Reporting:

"Although the exact scope of sexual violence and harassment against agricultural workers is impossible to pinpoint, an investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism reveals persistent peril for women working in the food industry. An estimated 560,000 women work on U.S. farms.

In partnership with FRONTLINE and Univision, CIR and IRP spent nearly a year reviewing thousands of pages of documents and crisscrossing the nation – from the tightly ordered orchards of the Yakima Valley to the leafy tomato fields of southern Florida – to hear workers’ stories of sexual assault.

Hundreds of female agricultural workers have complained to the federal government about being raped and assaulted, verbally and physically harassed on the job, while law enforcement has done almost nothing to prosecute potential crimes.

In virtually all of the cases reviewed, the alleged perpetrators held positions of power over the women. Despite the accusations, these supervisors have remained on the job for years without fear of arrest."

Read the full project - "Rape in the Fields

 

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