The woman who picked the vegetables for your salad for your lunch was assaulted. Her cousin, who picked the fruit for your breakfast this morning, was also raped. This didn’t happen in some third world country but in the United States. Based on a 1993 study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law study, 90% of female farm workers said that sexual harassment was a serious problem and according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, hundreds if not thousands of  women in California alone, have been sexually abused in the workplace. These workers coined the term field de calzón, or “field of panties,” because the frequent assaults and in Florida.

Women farm workers (specifically those that are undocumented/illegal) are frequent victims of sexual harassment and rape.

Attracted to the U.S. by jobs that pay about $11,000 a year — three times what they can make in Mexico or Central America — these women are frequent victims of sexual harassment and rape. Though official stats are hard to come by, given that undocumented workers risk scrutiny and deportation if they report a rape, advocacy groups say the problem is systemic, affecting thousands of women (who are outnumbered by men 20 to 1 in the fields) each year.


Monica Ramirez & Esperanza

As a young girl in Florida, Monica Ramirez witnessed a family member being assaulted by several men. She became a workplace discrimination expert and lawyer and founded Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative, the country’s first nonprofit organization dedicated to tackling the sexual violence against women farm workers as well as addressing gender discrimination of low-wage immigrants women in other labor forces, including hotel & services industries and meat-packing plants. Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish and the goal of the organization is to provide hope for these women by educating them about their rights

The organization has partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center to create a network of lawyers, law enforcement officials, social workers and religious leaders to service women in 24 states.

Monica founded the Esperanza as a statewide project in Florida while working as a en Equal justice Works Fellow.


The Bandana Project

The Bandana Project is a national campaign that raises awareness and educates the women farm workers about their rights. The program was named “Bandana” because the women farm workers covered themselves in as much clothing as possible and covered their faces with bandanas to hide their female identities.

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