‘Rape in the Fields’

This ol’ world is full of dirty little secrets, one of which comes to light Tuesday night on KACV-TV.

Frontline airs a program at 9 p.m. called “Rape in the Fields” and it tells a terrible story of what migrant women occasionally endure as they try to put food on our tables.


The women who work in our farm fields, or in our packing plants often are told to submit to sexual advances from their colleagues, or perhaps even their supervisors. The shameful occurrences have been revealed in a lengthy investigation by journalist Lowell Bergman, who uncovered them in the Farm Belt of California and elsewhere.

Many of the workers are undocumented immigrants. They are here illegally. To keep their jobs — and to keep immigration officials off their trail — these women are told to submit to sexual advances. It’s the terrible price they pay to feed themselves and their families.

That begs the question, in my mind at least: Is it happening here, in the Texas Panhandle? We have our share of migrant workers toiling in our fields and in our packing plants. They aren’t all male. Some of them involve entire families of mothers, fathers and children. I’m not saying I know it’s happening, but isn’t it reasonable to wonder aloud whether it is?

The topic of sexual assault is getting its deserved share of attention these days. The military establishment has vowed to crack down on the incidence of assaults against men and women in uniform. Yes, we must focus on what’s been called an “epidemic” of assault.

However, as Frontline notes, it isn’t occurring only within the ranks of our military personnel. It’s happening on our farms and ranches. It’s just as shameful and it requires the attention that Frontline is about to cast on it.


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