Sexual abuse runs amok in janitorial industry

Posted by John Kanelis on

So, you come to the United States of America in search of a better life for yourself and your family.

You take a job that perhaps an American citizens might not want. It's with a custodial service. It's hard work. Some might call it demeaning, but it puts food on your table.

But then something happens. You find yourself a victim of sexual predators. They take advantage of you knowing you're an immigrant. You well might be an undocumented immigrant, in this country illegally. Do you report the attack to the police and thus, risk being revealed as an undocumented immigrant? The predator assumes you won't.

So the predation continues. On and on it goes.

"Frontline" has teamed with Univision, the Spanish-language network, in uncovering reports of sexual abuse involving women working in the custodial industry.

"Rape on the Night Shift" will air Tuesday at 9 p.m on Panhandle PBS and it is sure to reveal one of the seedier aspects of life for those seeking to find hope in a new land.

Univision's Spanish-language version of the special premiered Saturday.

"Frontline"'s latest special takes a serious look at an American tragedy.

As PBS stated in its news release promoting the special: "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."

"Frontline" has been recognized over many years as one of the foremost documentary series on television. It is produced out of WGBH, the Boston public television station.

Its work is top-notch and thorough.

"Rape on the Night Shift" builds on an earlier special, "Rape in the Fields," which chronicled incidents of sexual abuse among migrant farm workers. That project, also done in conjunction with Univision, resulted in the California State Assembly enacting laws protecting women from sexual predators and it won a duPont-Columbia Journalism award and a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights award.

Might there be more honors coming to "Frontline" when it exposes this latest example of sexual predation?

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