FRESNO — Female farmworkers across the United States are commonly sexually harassed and assaulted, in part because their immigration status makes them fearful of calling police, according to a report being released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.
The survey by the international rights group mirrors two previous reports on the risks facing women and girls that had focused on California, where most of the nation's farmworkers reside.
"Our research confirms what farmworker advocates across the country believe: Sexual violence and sexual harassment experienced by farmworkers is common enough that some farmworker women see these abuses as an unavoidable condition of agricultural work," said the report.
An estimated 630,000 of the 3 million people who perform migrant and seasonal farm work are women. The federal government estimates that 60 percent of them are illegal immigrants.
"It's easiest for abusers to get away with sexual harassment where there's an imbalance of power, and the imbalance of power is particularly stark on farms," the report's author, Grace Meng, told The Associated Press.