Many women are coming forward to denounce sexual assault and harassment from powerful white men. These women are receiving a lot of attention from the media because they are also white and famous.
But sexual assault and harassment do not discriminate. It happens to women of all races, religions, social class, and status, including undocumented women.
According to the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), undocumented Latinas are frequent victims of sexual abuse. Here are just a few of many disturbing statistics:
- Latina farmworkers, or campesinas, are 10x more vulnerable than other workers to sexual assault and harassment at work
- 80% of Central American girls and women migrating to the US are raped
- Rape has become so common that women take birth control pills or get shots before making the journey across the Mexico-U.S. border
- 77% of Latinas said that sexual harassment was a major problem in the workplace
The Threat of Deportation Hangs Over Victims
When undocumented women are raped, they cannot call the police for fear they will be detained or deported. In many cases, the rapists specifically threaten to have the victims and their families deported.
Many undocumented Latinas arriving in the US, “have already suffered severe trauma.” Once settled, immigrant Latina workers are at high risk of sexual abuse because “they depend on their employers for their livelihood, live in constant fear of being deported, suffer social isolation, and are vulnerable to their employer’s demands.”
This is one of the reasons that Sanctuary Cities are so important. Cities and towns who declare themselves a Sanctuary City are encouraging undocumented victims report crimes without fear of deportation.
Even when they do report their attackers, undocumented Latinas face more barriers to justice within the court system itself. According to Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), women who don’t speak English have reported that the court had the abuser serve as their interpreter.
It cuts both ways: When white men in powerful positions rape women, they are given the benefit of the doubt. But can you imagine if Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Bill O’Reilly, or Donald Trump were named Jose Martinez or Juan Mendez?
The bottom line is no person should be threatened or punished for reporting their attacker, and no attacker should be given special privilege based on the color of their skin.