Many racial justice and immigrants rights advocates have been following news of the raids at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville Iowa last week. On May 12th 697 people were arrested by federal agents in the biggest single-site immigration raid in U.S. history.
Among the many dimensions of human rights abuses that advocates seek to remedy through comprehensive immigration reform, sexual and economic exploitation of undocumented workers is rarely brought to light. According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, "it is estimated that 80% of undocumented females who cross into the United States experience sexual assault and/or rape."
Many YWCAs offer programs and services to immigrant women and to survivors of violence. As advocates for an end to violence against women and for full racial equity, these issues are our issues. If we are going to prevent immigrant women from experiencing future sexual exploitation, we must advocate for their full rights and enfranchisement.
It is certainly not news to those involved in the movement to end violence against women that conditions of isolation like language barriers, lack of "legitimate" legal status, and economic dependence are the fastest incubator for exploitation and violence.
Does your YW have programs, resources, or expertise on these issues? If so, please share thoughts and ideas for action in the comments section.
The article below from the Des Moines Register describes the conditions of women workers in Postville:
Advocates: Workers allege sexual abuse
By JENNIFER JACOBS • firstname.lastname@example.org • May 20, 2008
Reports that there was an expectation of sexual favors at Agriprocessors Inc. are beginning to emerge from workers at the Postville meat processing plant, and advocates for immigrants are trying to document the stories.Sister Mary McCauley, a Roman Catholic nun at St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Postville, said workers have said that "there was sexual abuse, that there's propositioning."