Barriers to Reporting Sexual Harassment and Violence for Migrant Women in Agriculture: Power dynamics, systemic subjugation and the intersection of poverty and vulnerability
Davis Weaver, Nicole
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Background: Sexual harassment of women within the U.S. agricultural sector has become a dangerous and pervasive societal norm. Sociocultural adversities present in this field interplay to reinforce vulnerability and contribute to their status as one of the most underserved populations living in the United States. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine societal implications that act as barriers to reporting workplace sexual harassment (WSH), by identifying the impact of workplace power dynamics and assessing the vulnerability of women agricultural workers related to economic and systemic subjugations. Methods and Analysis: This study utilized qualitative methodology and focus group data analysis. Secondary data analysis of a community-based participatory research study involving focus groups were reexamined for the purposes of this study. The focus groups were conducted in December of 2014. Two groups each included the participation of 10 women agricultural workers (n=20) in Yakima Valley, Washington. Transcripts were coded and analyzed using qualitative grounded theory methodology. Results: Three reoccurring themes were derived from focus group data analysis. First, the agricultural workplaces of the focus group participants exhibit a workplace hierarchy in which power dynamics place female workers at increased susceptibility for sexual harassment and harm. Second, economic insecurity exacerbates vulnerability and stress outcomes. Third, women agricultural workers noted additional systemic issues present in their lives which impede their ability to report their harassers. Conclusions: Aggregate sociocultural factors have allowed the rate of sexual harassment within the agricultural workplace to become a social norm within this field, representing a dangerous societal epidemic. Economic, cultural, and social forces converge to put these women at great risk for experiencing harassment and sexual violence within their workplaces, while also preventing them from accessing resources for reporting their harassers or seeking medical services. Additional research is needed in this understudied area, along with advocates from many public health sectors. Behavior change theories are suggested for their effectiveness in public health intervention approaches.
- Health services