#MeToo: Migrant women, sexual assault and access to justice


As story after story emerges about the sexual harassment and assault of women, the experience of migrant women is just beginning to be shared more broadly. As media pundits ask whether this will be a "watershed" moment in addressing sexual harassment (so far focused on the harassment of women in Hollywood and in politics), we need to recognize that immigrant wome--particularly those who are undocumented--are systematically placed in situations of greater vulnerability, and by policy, can be denied access to justice.

For migrant and refugee women, sexual harassment, abuse and violence can exist throughout the migration process. For migrant women in irregular migration status, sexual violence can be pervasive in transit, crossing borders, in refugee camps, detention centers, in workplaces and neighborhoods.

These and other issues are being raised by NNIRR and our global partners like the Women in Migration Network as we press the United Nations and member states on the development of a new Global Compact on Migration, to be adopted by the end of next year.

While the media focus in the U.S. has been on "culture change" and "morality"--breaking the patterns of sexual harassment and abuse of immigrant women also calls for addressing the drivers of migration, deterrent migration policies, lack of access to safe passage, detention and deportation policies, lack of regularization (legalization) opportunities, labor rights and access to decent work, and more. Indeed, for most poor and working class women and women of color, systemic and structural factors need to be challenged to move beyond a "Hollywood moment".

Over these past couple of weeks we have shared related articles in social media, and we share here these and other background reports and videos that expose the domestic and global nature of the problem:

The Women Who Fear Saying #MeToo 

(Nov. 11, 2017) A commentary describing the global dimensions of the #metoo phenomena by Michele Levoy, director of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migration (PICUM) and a member of the Women and Migration Network (WIMN).

The Open Letter that Latina Farmworkers Wrote about Hollywood and Sexual Assault

(Nov. 15, 2017, NPR - Latino USA) A letter from Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, published in several national media.

More Trouble at T. Don Hutto: Detainee alleges sexual abuse by guard

(Nov. 17, 2017, The Austin Chronicle) Also coverage by Grassroots Leadership, which is pursuing this case.

Sexual Assault and Farmworkers

(Nov. 5, 2017) An NPR interview with Rosalinda Guillen, Director of Community to Community in Washington State. 

Rape in the Fields 

(June 25, 2013) "FRONTLINE and Univision partner to tell the story of the hidden price many migrant women working in America's fields and packing plants pay to stay employed and provide for their families. This investigation is the result of a yearlong reporting effort by veteran FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, and the Center for Investigative Reporting." 

Rape on the Night Shift

(June 23, 2015) "Following up on the award-winning collaboration that produced Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño in 2013, FRONTLINE (PBS)UnivisionReveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR)the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley and KQED are teaming up to uncover the sexual abuse of immigrant women who clean the malls where you shop, the banks where you do business, and other offices where you work."

Violence Against Women Migrant Workers

(July 25, 2017) A report of the Secretary General of the United Nations, describing the range of sexual harassment, abuse and violence faced by women migrant workers--a range that incorporates experiences in home countries, in transit and at destinations. NNIRR has described this vast range as a "pyramid of abuse". The report includes case studies from NNIRR's global partner, Women in Migration Network (WIMN).

As always, we thank you for your support and wish you and your families a season of peace, justice and good will.