At a time when national attention is directed toward the sexual harassment and assault of women in Hollywood, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Women’s Group says gender-based violence in the fields remains largely overlooked. In early October, CIW sent a letter to Wendy’s CEO Todd Penegor, along with the company’s board chair and a major shareholder, calling attention to the sexual violence occurring in Wendy’s supply chain and requesting a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter called for Wendy’s participation in the Fair Food Program and questioned why Wendy’s had shifted from purchases in Florida, where Fair Food Program protections have largely eliminated sexual harassment and assault, to purchases in Mexico, where the abuses are rampant.
According to US statistics from the American Association of University Women, Langer Research Associates, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, 25% of all women as a whole, 65% of women on college campuses, and 80% of women in agricultural fields, have reported sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. CIW is a worker-based human rights organization which began with farmworkers in 1993.