Imagine yourself in the following situation: You are a single mother working for minimum wage in Pennsylvania. You work in an isolated, rural area with very few other women. Your supervisor begins to make inappropriate comments about you as he walks by you. You try to ignore him at first, hoping he’ll stop; you’re afraid that if you confront him, he’ll get you fired. But it escalates. He starts making the comments directly to you, then starts telling you what he would do to you if he could get you alone. Feeling trapped and frightened, you tell him that you’re not interested, but he’s not dissuaded. Other workers hear him saying these things, but they look away — they’re afraid of losing their jobs, too. He starts assigning you tasks in different parts of the farm, things that don’t really need to be done, but that get you away from the other workers. Sometimes, he follows you and even touches you, understandably causing you a great deal of distress. When you finally go to the office to report the assaults, crying and ashamed, the manager tells you to stop complaining and go back to work, or you’ll be fired.
This story may seem terrible, tragic and far-fetched. However, this and similar scenarios are distressingly common among the low-wage female workers who come to Friends of Farmworkers for help. Over the past several years, the number of our clients who are women has been increasing, and many have been enduring sexual harassment and worse.
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