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I’ve found that our media often whitewashes the news that we receive. In many cases, more time is spent on celebrities than on news that matters. We don’t hear about a lof of the injustices that happen in our country. That’s one of the reasons that I watch documentaries like Rape on the Night Shift from PBS and Frontline.
Steep Price Many Women Pay to Keep their Jobs
Every night, as most of us head home, janitors across America, many of them women, begin their night shift. They are often alone or isolated in empty buildings — and vulnerable to sexual violence. Following up on the award-winning collaboration that produced Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño in 2013, FRONTLINE (PBS), Univision, the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP) at UC Berkeley, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and KQED are teaming up to uncover the sexual abuse of immigrant women, often undocumented, who clean the malls where you shop, the banks where you do business, and the offices where you work.
With firsthand accounts from female janitorial workers who say they have been sexually abused by their coworkers and supervisors, the collaborative investigation tells the stories of the steep price many women in the janitorial industry pay to keep their jobs and provide for their families. Many of the women have been terrified to report their alleged attackers — some for fear of being deported; others for fear they’ll lose their jobs — so these cases are often difficult to prosecute.
From San Francisco’s Ferry Building to the malls of Minnesota, to big box stores across the country, the investigative team — with correspondent Lowell Bergman, producers Andrés Cediel and Daffodil Altan, and reporters Bernice Yeung and Sasha Khokha — found violations across the janitorial industry involving companies large and small. Drawing on interviews with the women themselves, an attorney for the federal agency that enforces sexual harassment laws in the workplace, and a watchdog group that monitors workplace conditions for janitors, the investigation sheds new light on an underreported problem — and reveals how employers have fallen short in dealing with it. The project builds on Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño, an earlier collaborative investigation that uncovered the sexual abuse of immigrant women working in America’s farms, fields, and factories. California enacted a bill to protect female farmworkers from sexual abuse in direct response to Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño, and the investigation was honored with a duPont-Columbia Award and an Robert F. Kennedy Award.
Rape on the Nightshift was a real eye opener for me. I’m not naive; I know that there are men that abuse the power their management jobs give them. But to see the lack of options that these women had because they were afraid of losing their jobs made me think. The part that disturbed me the most was that in these larger corporations, in most cases, when the companies found out what the manager had done, they did nothing to them.
If you enjoy documentaries and Frontline investigations, you’ll want to see Rape on the Nightshift.