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The Bandana Project

They will resist and we will stand with them.

CRLAF takes a multi-tiered approach to combating sexual exploitation in the fields. CRLAF began its community advocacy work over a decade ago through launching the “Bandana Project,” part of a nationwide movement to spotlight sexual harassment against farmworker women. CRLAF took the project one step further, utilizing an Art to Heal model, where participants draw, paint, or embroider their feelings and messages on white bandanas.


The Bandana Project has ultimately led to increased awareness of sexual exploitation and served to empower women to speak up and fight back through the justice system. CRLAF has successfully represented classes of workers throughout the Central Valley in various sexual harassment cases.


We are only this far because of the brave farmworker women who have spoken up for years. 

Legal Achievements:

CRLAF co-sponsored SB 1087 with Senator Monning, a bill passed in 2014 which attacks the widespread culture of sexual harassment of farmworker women by Farm Labor Contractors (FLCs) and their supervisors through a combination of mandatory annual sexual harassment prevention training and testing of licensees; annual training of their supervisors; and training of farmworkers in how to prevent, identify and report sexual harassment. The bill also makes more than a dozen other needed changes to the state Farm Labor Contractor Act, including authorizing the Labor Commissioner to take adverse license actions against sexual predators.

Later, CRLAF assisted in passing SB 295, Sexual Harassment Training Enforcement for Farm Labor Contractors, which responds to a failure by the agricultural industry to fully implement mandatory sexual harassment prevention training for farmworkers imposed by CRLAF’s SB 1087. CRLAF wrote and sponsored the new legislation not only to attack non-compliance by farm labor contractors, but also to bring greater transparency to their required training of farmworkers. SB 295 does this by giving the state labor commissioner new authority to issue citations for 6 different sexual harassment training violations, and also by providing farmworker women victims with a right to sue contractors for these violations. The combination of increased state enforcement, and lawsuits by farmworker women victims should reduce sexual harassment in the industry.

The woman behind the bandanas:

Juanita Ontiveros is CRLAF’s Director of Community Advocacy, Special Projects, and Human Resources. Ontiveros embodies the sentiment how throughout movements and coalitions, we are ultimately only able to make lasting systemic change by working together.


Juanita has worked for years within the farmworker movement for equal rights, finding direction and inspiration from both her farmworker family and through initial collaborations with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Since becoming more active in this advocacy in the 1960's, Juanita continues to persevere, discussing the larger issues of how immigration status creates a shadow over both workers rights and sexual exploitation, working hard to create ground-level, applicable solutions to numerable labor abuse violations. After Ontiveros brought the case of a farmworker woman facing  sexual harassment in the workplace, and CRLAF successfully represented this client, the two were featured in the PBS documentary, “Rape in the Fields,” a film explaining issues many farmworker women face on a daily basis. This film has been incredibly influential in bringing further light to the subject, and further sexual harassment cases against farmworkers to the courts.

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