By: Tiffany Baker, CIFC Campaign Manager
Sexual assault is often the elephant in the room and is a subject that is narrowly talked about. Nobody wants to talk about it, but it occurs so often that the statistics are staggering. According to the statistics; 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives. There is an average of 321,500 sexual assault cases each year on people who are older than 12. Out of these statistics, only 30% of victims will step forward to authorities to tell their story. Based on statistics provided by Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. Despite the statistics and the effects caused by being sexually assaulted, it is estimated that out of 1000 perpetrators, only 6 will end up in prison.
U.S Department of Justice defines sexual assault as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. It is a nationwide problem that we must deal with head on especially to the communities that are least likely to come forward when a sexual assault has occurred. One of these communities is our farmworker population. There are roughly between 2.5 and 3 million farmworkers working in the United States. 53% of this population are undocumented. These people often have little support, language barriers and financial hardships that make them the perfect potential target of a sexual assault, especially young women and girls. The rates amount women ages 12 and older are higher due to the vulnerability of this population.
Many of these victims suffer in silence due to fear of what will happen after they report the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is their boss or their supervisor, these victims may not want to come forward because they fear losing their jobs, especially if they are the sole provider for their families. There have also been situations where the perpetrator may threaten the livelihood of the fathers and significant others if the victim did not agree. The victims may also be undocumented and they fear going back to their countries where they might end up in a worst situation than where they are currently. Many of them are unaware of the rights, especially because of their young age or unfamiliarity with the country, that they have and they may not know who they can trust to protect them. Often, perpetrators use the victims fear against them to continue the abused time and time again.
Despite these statistics there are resources available to all women regardless of their immigration status. There are organizations such as the Farmworker Sexual Violence Technical Assistance Project that focuses on providing quality legal assistance for victims. They also aid in coming up with a safety plan for these victims as well as to increase the knowledge of attorneys, advocates, law enforcement, law makers and the community about the challenges and issues facing victims in the farmworker community. There are also plenty of other local organization in each state that can help these victims.
We must find new ways to fight the occurrences of sexual violence in all communities around the United States.