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“They Talk Like That, But We Keep Working”: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Experiences Among Mexican Indigenous Farmworker Women in Oregon

Abstract

In order to examine the experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault among indigenous and non-indigenous Mexican immigrant farmworkers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a community–academic participatory research partnership initiated a study, which included focus groups, conducted and analyzed by skilled practitioners and researchers. The themes that emerged from the focus groups included direct and indirect effects of sexual harassment and sexual assault on women and risk factors associated with the farmworker workplace environment, and the increased vulnerability of non-Spanish-speaking indigenous women due to low social status, poverty, cultural and linguistic issues, and isolation. Recommendations for prevention and improved services for vulnerable women will be discussed as well as limitations and future research directions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Over the past decade, the Oregon Law Center has represented a number of agricultural workers, including indigenous farmworkers, in a number of discrimination (sexual harassment/assault) cases throughout the state of Oregon, in response to complaints of verbal sexual harassment, graphic images, assault, retaliation for complaining about harassment, and quid pro quo.

  2. 2.

    This partnership included Oregon Law Center, Northwest Treeplanters & Farmworkers United, Oregon Health Sciences School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Virginia Garcia Health Center. This article presents results from a qualitative descriptive study designed to describe the experience and knowledge of, and attitudes about sexual harassment and assault of indigenous Mexican women farmworkers.

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Acknowledgments

The Project Against Workplace Sexual Assault of Indigenous Farmworkers was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships. The authors would like to acknowledge the work of Bonnie Bade, PhD, California State University San Marcos, and of Nancy Glass, PhD, MPH, RN, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. They would also like to thank the Project’s community educators Marcelina Martinez, Carmen Gonzalez and Cecilia De Jesus and Oregon’s indigenous farmworkers who participated in the creation of the research questions, in the focus groups, and in the analysis of data resulting in this publication.

Conflict of interest

This study was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Correspondence to Jeanne Murphy.

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Murphy, J., Samples, J., Morales, M. et al. “They Talk Like That, But We Keep Working”: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Experiences Among Mexican Indigenous Farmworker Women in Oregon. J Immigrant Minority Health 17, 1834–1839 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-014-9992-z

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Keywords

  • Indigenous
  • Mexican
  • Farmworker
  • Women
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault