PBS’s FRONTLINE confronts sexual assault of farmworkers

Maricruz Ladino, whose story is featured in “Rape in the Fields.” ANDRES CEDIEL/FRONTLINE

A new documentary will be airing tonight on PBS stations across the country and online, titled “Rape in the Fields.” described the problem as well as the film in The Fresno Bee:

Every year in the central San Joaquin Valley, thousands of farmworkers are harvesting fruits and vegetables to feed the nation and the world. Yet, underneath this massive multibillion-dollar industry is an environment that advocates say makes it ripe for sexual abuse.

Female workers have been the victims of sexual attacks, harassment and intimidation by supervisors and fellow workers. Many have suffered in silence, afraid to tell authorities for fear of losing their jobs — or being deported.

That veil of secrecy, however, may be lifting.

Several studies have shined a national spotlight on the issue, and on Tuesday the Public Broadcasting System’s Frontline news program will feature a report on the subject titled “Rape in the Fields.” The program will be rebroadcast Saturday in Spanish on Univision’s television stations.

The program — produced in partnership with Univision, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the investigative reporting program at the University of California at Berkeley — delves into the painful price some women are paying for providing for their families. As part of the program, dozens of women — from the Valley’s almond orchards to Florida’s tomato fields — shared their stories about being victims of sexual abuse.

Find Rodriguez and Aguilera’s full story here.

Check your local listings to learn when the documentary airs in your area, or head to FRONTLINE’s website. Watch for additional content online as well: As Elizabeth Jensen of The New York Times noted when reporting on the documentary for the Media & Advertising section of the Times, “two dozen additional reports, including an animated video, will appear on the various partners’ Web sites.”

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