Ph.D. candidate Anelyse Weiler recently contributed an article to the Conversation discussing migrant farm workers' vulnerability to sexual violence. Anelyse has studied migrant farm workers at both the Master's and Doctoral levels and is currently conducting research for her dissertation, The Periphery in the Core: Investigating Migration, Agrarian Citizenship and Metabolic Rift Through a Case Study of the Apple. Anelyse's research is supported by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Anelyse wrote the article in collaboration with Amy Cohen who is a College Professor of Anthropology at Okanagan College. The Conversation.com is an "independent source of news and views, from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public." The story was also reprinted in the National Post.
We have posted a short excerpt of the article below. The full article is available at Conversation.com/ca.
Migrant farm workers vulnerable to sexual violence
After Teresa filed a report against her farm employer for sexual assault, he asked her how much money it would take for her to retract her statement. In the spring of 2014, Teresa (not her real name) was attacked by her boss on his farm in British Columbia.
On the day the assault occurred, the boss sent Teresa’s male co-workers to another farm for the day, leaving her and another female farm worker behind. While they were trellising grape vines, the women ran out of twine.
Teresa’s boss told her to come and get more twine inside a shed, where she says he forced his mouth onto hers and began grabbing her inappropriately. She managed to shake off his grip and run back to her co-worker in the vineyard for support.
It was her word against his, and the Crown decided there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with the charges. In Canada, 46 per cent of women survivors don’t even report sexual assault because they think there is insufficient proof.
Teresa is a single mom from Baja California, Mexico. Since 2012, she has been supporting her parents and two daughters by spending up to eight months each year on Canadian farms through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Teresa was concerned that speaking up about the sexual assault might hurt her and her female co-worker’s future job chances.
She says Mexico’s Secretariat of Labour and Social Welfare verbally warns SAWP workers each season before they leave Mexico: “‘You’re coming to Canada to work, not to cause problems.’ If you complain about something, they kick you out of the program.”
After the assault, Teresa was transferred to a small vegetable farm, where her new employer provided accommodations in a rodent-infested trailer without a functional lock. Teresa’s attacker lived in the adjacent village in British Columbia’s southern Interior. She suffered from recurrent nightmares. “I was afraid. I thought he was going to show up or that he was going to do something to me.”
Our connections with migrant women survivors of sexual assault are based on field research we have conducted since 2013 with migrant farm workers in Canada. We are also volunteer members of grassroots advocacy organizations in British Columbia and Ontario that provide front-line support for farm workers...