SEXUAL HARASSMENT PREVENTION
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 farm worker 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 farm worker women who have spoken up for years.
CRLAF co-sponsored SB 1087 with Senator Monning, a bill passed in 2014 which attacks the widespread culture of sexual harassment of farm worker women by 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 farm workers 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 farm workers 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 farm workers. 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 farm worker women victims with a right to sue contractors for these violations. The combination of increased state enforcement, and lawsuits by farm worker 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 get somewhere by working together.
Juanita has worked for years within the farmworkers’ movement towards equal rights, initially finding direction and inspiration under Cesar Chavez. She has persevered, unafraid to discuss the larger issues of workers rights and sexual exploitation, and create ground-level, applicable solutions to numerable labor abuse violations. Ontiveros was featured in the 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.