As many as 90 percent of female farmworkers report being sexually harassed on the job, which includes being sexually assaulted, but efforts are underway in Indiana to help that underrepresented population.
Kimber Nicoletti is the director and founder of Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault. Based at Purdue University, MESA aims to help underserved communities, which includes Indiana’s migrant farmworker population.
Nicoletti says women are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence for many reasons, including their isolation.
“A lot of times farmworkers are invisible in the community, they feel disempowered,” Nicoletti says. “It’s difficult for them to access culturally relevant resources.”
Nicoletti says through Purdue’s College of Agriculture, she reaches out to growers around the state to raise awareness.
“A lot of them, they’re just not aware of what a severe problem this is for farmworker women, to look at a situation where people are being harassed and exploited really by someone within the community, not really externally outside of the farmworker population,” she says.
Nicoletti added another barrier migrant farmworkers encounter is being unfairly stereotyped as undocumented immigrants; she says many of Indiana’s population are U.S. citizens from Texas.