The next time you sit down to a fresh, healthy salad, consider this: The contents may have been picked by one of the 400,000 women toiling in U.S. fields, nurseries, and packing plants. 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. Workers in Salinas, CA, refer to one company's land as the field de calzón, or "field of panties," because so many supervisors rape women there; in Florida, some workers call the farm where they work "the Green Motel," because they are expected to lie down between rows of plantings. One worker from a group in Iowa, who settled a class-action suit against an employer, told her lawyer, "We thought it was normal in the U.S. that you had to have sex to keep your job."
Now, a 30-year-old lawyer named Mónica Ramírez is leading an effort to weed out the fear in the fields. She founded Esperanza, the country's first nonprofit dedicated to eradicating sexual assault and harassment of female farm workers, which has joined forces with the Southern Poverty Law Center to create a network of lawyers, law-enforcement officials, social workers, and religious leaders, serving women in 24 states. As a young girl in Florida, Ramírez, the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, watched several men sexually assault a member of her family and threaten that if this person didn't do what they wanted, they'd come after Ramírez, too. Says Ramírez, "I want to see the day when I've worked myself out of a job." To learn more about Esperanza, visit splcenter.org.
Eva Mendes Shaves Her Face Every Other Day: “I’m a Beast”
“My hair grows back if I get chills.”
By Samantha Holender
Hollywood's Next A-List
You may not recognize all of them...yet. But these 22 individuals have delivered some of the most triumphant on-screen performances in recent memory.
By Neha Prakash
The Ambition Issue
A celebration of striving for success in whatever's most important to you.
By Marie Claire Editors
36 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
It's just one of the many ways women still aren't equal to men.
By Brooke Knappenberger
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein
Want to Fight for Abortion Rights in Texas? Raise Your Voice to State Legislators
Emily Cain, executive director of EMILY's List and and former Minority Leader in Maine, says that to stop the assault on reproductive rights, we need to start demanding more from our state legislatures.
By Emily Cain
Your Abortion Questions, Answered
Here, MC debunks common abortion myths you may be increasingly hearing since Texas' near-total abortion ban went into effect.
By Rachel Epstein
The Future of Afghan Women and Girls Depends on What We Do Next
Between the U.S. occupation and the Taliban, supporting resettlement for Afghan women and vulnerable individuals is long overdue.
By Rona Akbari
How to Help Afghanistan Refugees and Those Who Need Aid
With the situation rapidly evolving, organizations are desperate for help.
By Katherine J. Igoe
It’s Time to Give Domestic Workers the Protections They Deserve
The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, reintroduced today, would establish a new set of standards for the people who work in our homes and take a vital step towards racial and gender equity.
By Ai-jen Poo
The Biden Administration Announced It Will Remove the Hyde Amendment
The pledge was just one of many gender equity commitments made by the administration, including the creation of the first U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
By Megan DiTrolio