Hastings Women’s Law Journal


Christa Conry


There is a place in the booming agricultural fields of America's farmlands that carries a terrible history. The fields de calzons, or fields of panties, are where female farmworkers, mostly migrant employees residing in the United States for the harvest, are systematically violated by foremen, colleagues, and other superiors. There are 1.4 million crop workers in the United States. Twenty-four percent of these workers are estimated to be female. A recent report suggests that as many as eighty percent of female farmworkers surveyed are regularly exposed to sexual harassment, assault, and trauma, ranging from continuous sexual advances over years of seasonal work to isolated, violent attacks. This note discusses the ways Title VII fails female farmworkers; it suggests a plan of action to implement stronger mechanisms protecting women and girls who face sexual violence in America's farmlands and fields and grounds that call for broader federal protection in a proposed amendment to the legislation meant to safeguard this group of laborers, the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act ("AWPA").