“Even though people we love don’t believe us. The second thing is challenging institutions. Activism should be hard. If it is not hard, you are not doing enough…”
-Monica Ramirez, 11 Sept. 2018, remarks at Women’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Leadership Conference
“Standing with them and walking with them for fair wages, for safe working conditions in the fields, for bathroom breaks, just things we take for granted in our daily lives that are a struggle for them each day for dignity is so important.”
– David Wildman, Board Member, National Farm Worker Ministry From NFWM’s video, Maricela’s Story: Standing with Farm Workers Against Gender Based Violence
“Protection” has unique meanings for farm worker women. While many wear protective clothing to guard against the elements and pesticides some also wear bandannas and hats and other garments to disguise and protect themselves from unwanted sexual attention. They learn that sexual harassment seems to be protected by law. They learn that equal employment protections do not apply to them if they work in crews of less than 15 people or they are not direct employees. Technically, they are protected under the Violence Against Women Act, but the volume of complaints and the timing for resolution makes the “protection” hard to realize.
Some farm worker women use white bandannas as a symbol of their resistance to violence and harassment. Join the Bandanna Project during April for Sexual Assault Awareness month (or anytime). Learn about the work, create a time to find out more about farm worker women. Decorate bandannas with messages of solidarity and support to display in your church and community. Act to use citizen power to turn the legal promises into real protections.
Have gratitude for the courage of farm worker women who stand against harassment and violence. Pray that the faith community would have the courage to stand with them, and pray that soon bandannas will be no longer needed for “protection.”
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