HARLINGEN, RGV – PBS’s Frontline has partnered with Univision to produce a documentary titled ‘Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño.’ It airs this evening on PBS and Saturday on Univision.

The documentary aims to “uncover the hidden price that many migrant women working in America’s fields and packing plants, especially those who are undocumented, are paying to keep their jobs and provide for their families,” according a news release from Frontline.

The release says that while debate rages on Capitol Hill over the legal and economic impact of immigration reforms, the Frontline documentary focuses on the “human side” of the issue: how female farm workers fall prey to their field bosses and co-workers – and dare not denounce their attackers. “Otherwise, they run the very real risk that they’ll lose their jobs or be deported.

Frontline correspondent Lowell Bergman said his film crew traveled the almond groves of California’s Central Valley, the packing sheds of Iowa, the apple orchards of Washington’s Yakima Valley and the tomato fields of Florida. He said they spoke to dozens of women who say they have been abused on the job. “The abuse of undocumented women isn’t on anybody’s radar and it should be,” Bergman said.

Maricruz Ladino, whose story is featured in Rape in the Fields, is one of many women who say they have been sexually assaulted while working in America's fields, farms and factories.
Maricruz Ladino, whose story is featured in Rape in the Fields, is one of many women who say they have been sexually assaulted while working in America’s fields, farms and factories.

“These women live in fear, but they were willing to go on camera to tell their stories at great personal risk. They didn’t want to see it happening to other women,” he said.

Forensic evidence is rarely gathered when sexual abuse is reported in the fields and the packing sheds, Bergman said. Few women are willing to report the crime, and even fewer rape cases are ever litigated. “There’s been little response from law enforcement agencies to do anything about this problem,” Bergman said.

The documentary is the first time Frontline has collaborated with a domestic broadcast partner on a premiere, accordign to Raney Aronson-Rath, deputy executive producer for Frontline. The documentary has been produced in association with the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The documentary airs 9 p.m. CT on Tuesday, June 25, on PBS, and on Univision in Spanish on Saturday, June 29 at 6 p.m.

Pedro Rodriguez, web manager for KMBH-TV, the PBS station in the Rio Grande Valley, said KMBH will screen ‘Rape in the Fields’ online on Friday, June 28 at 1:30 p.m. KMBH’s website address is kmbh.org.