Sexual violence against women farmworkers in the United States: a literature review

Women are far outnumbered by men in the agricultural industry and constitute an estimated 20-25 percent of the total farmworker population, and sexual violence of women is widespread.

This literature review from OXFAM organizes previous information and shows where improvements can be made in addressing the complex issues facing women farmworkers who experience sexual violence in the workplace and how to best assist them.

Woman farm worker looking through a fence

While working in the fields, Olivia Tamayo was raped at gunpoint by her supervisor who threatened to kill her husband if she told anyone about it. When she finally gained the courage to report him to her employer, one of the country’s largest farming companies, management did not believe her, ignored her complaints and retaliated against her.

Similarly, Emiteria Cortes Bustos was raped with shears to her throat by her supervisor who threatened to fire her and kill her siblings if she reported the rapes. He forced her to perform sex in the fields several more times and when she refused, he fired her.

These are just two examples of the sexual violence that women farmworkers in the United States must face on a regular basis. A recent community study found approximately 80 percent of women farmworkers they spoke to claimed they experienced some form of sexual violence on the job.

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