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The Hidden Story of Rape on the Job in America


For the women who pick and handle the food we eat every day, sexual assault often comes with the job.

It’s the hidden price that many migrant women, especially those who are undocumented, are paying to keep their jobs and provide for their families — and it’s the subject of Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño, a new investigation from FRONTLINE, Univision News, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The investigation — led by veteran FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman — will air on FRONTLINE on Tuesday, June 25, at 10 p.m. (check local PBS listings), and on the Univision Network as Violación de un Sueño on Saturday, June 29, at 7 p.m.

As The New York Times reports todayRape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño is “the first time [FRONTLINE] has shared a film premiere with another American broadcaster”:

PBS and ‘Frontline,’ [FRONTLINE deputy executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath] said, are ‘not reaching as much of the Hispanic audience as Univision is reaching,’ and the hope was that some of those Univision viewers would find their way to PBS. Each news organization will stream the other’s film on its Web site, and cross-promote the films on the air … the PBS version will most likely be watched ‘by English-speakers that are concerned with this issue from an intellectual’ and policy viewpoint,’ while on Univision ‘it will be watched by a lot of the victims,’ said Juan Rendon, director of the Univision News documentary unit. ‘It works really well in both arenas,’ he added.

The films are the result of a year-long reporting effort. Bergman and his team traveled from the almond groves of California’s Central Valley to the packing plants of Iowa, from the apple orchards of Washington’s Yakima Valley to the tomato fields of Florida. They spoke with dozens of women who say they have been sexually abused on the job.

And they found that in the vast fields and orchards of today’s agribusiness, it’s easy for a rapist to stalk his victims — who are often, but not always, undocumented women who dare not denounce their attackers for fear they’ll be deported.

“These women live in fear, but they were willing to go on camera to tell their stories at great personal risk,” says Bergman. “They didn’t want to see it happening to other women.”

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