Press Release: “Rape in the Fields”

June 10, 2013
by Patrice Taddonio Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist


FRONTLINE and Univision News Present
Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño
Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 10 p.m. on PBS
Saturday, June 29, 2013, at 7 p.m. on the Univision Network | Twitter: @frontlinepbs #frontlinepbs

For the women who pick and handle the food we eat every day, sexual assault often comes with the job.

FRONTLINE partners with Univision News—the award-winning news division of the leading media company serving Hispanic America, Univision Communications, Inc.—for Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño, 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.

While debate rages on Capitol Hill over the legal and economic impact of immigration reforms, this 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.

“The abuse of undocumented women isn’t on anybody’s radar,” says correspondent Lowell Bergman, “and it should be.”

Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño is the result of a yearlong reporting effort by Bergman, the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Traveling from the almond groves of California’s Central Valley to the packing plants of Iowa, from the apple orchards of Washington’s Yakima Valley to the tomato fields of Florida, the investigative team spoke with dozens of women who say they have been sexually abused on the job. And they have found that in the vast fields and orchards of today’s agribusiness, it’s easy for a rapist to stalk his victims—who are often, but not always, undocumented women.

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

The investigative team interviews women who speak on camera about their alleged abuse for the first time, as well as women who have tried to hold companies accountable in civil court for the actions of their supervisors. But the issue of sexual harassment in the agricultural sector is still uncharted territory. Forensic evidence is rarely gathered; 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 says.

The investigation will air as Rape in the Fields on FRONTLINE on Tuesday, June 25, at 10 p.m. (check local PBS listings), and on the Univision Network as Violación de un Sueño on Saturday, June 29, at 7 p.m. Both broadcasts will be accompanied by original, multiplatform content from all partners.

“This is the very first time FRONTLINE has collaborated with a domestic broadcast partner on a premiere,” says Raney Aronson-Rath, deputy executive producer for FRONTLINE. “The sexual abuse of immigrant women in our farms, fields and factories is a story that needs to be told—and this unprecedented broadcast partnership with Univision is a remarkable opportunity to expand the footprint of this important journalism.”

“This program will undoubtedly be of very special interest to Univision’s audience,” says Isaac Lee, president of news for Univision. “We are committed to quality journalism and are proud of this partnership and of airing such an extraordinary investigative piece that brings to light the terrible sexual abuse that so many female migrant workers are being subjected to.”

“CIR is proud of our role in this important story,” says Robert J. Rosenthal, executive director of the Center for Investigative Reporting. “Collaboration is central to our model, and working with such distinguished fellow journalists can only heighten the strength, reach and impact of the story.”

“FRONTLINE is known for its investigative reporting and for forging collaborative partnerships to tell important stories,” says Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager of General Audience Programming at PBS. “This collaboration with Univision will help bring the results of this investigation to a large and diverse audience.”


Rape in the Fields/Violación de un Sueño is a Cam Bay production for WGBH/FRONTLINE and Univision News in association with the Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the Center for Investigative Reporting. The producers and writers are Andrés Cediel and Lowell Bergman. The director is Andrés Cediel. The correspondent is Lowell Bergman. The deputy executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE is David Fanning.


FRONTLINE explores the issues of our times through powerful investigative storytelling. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation and by the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund. FRONTLINE is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by the Media Access Group at WGBH. FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of the WGBH Educational Foundation.

About Univision News

Univision’s award-winning news division is committed to informing the country’s fastest growing segment of the population across all media platforms, including TV, radio and interactive. Hispanics count on getting access to the latest and most relevant content impacting their community from the programs Noticiero Univision, the network’s evening, late-evening and weekend national newscast; the Sunday public affairs program Al Punto (To the Point); the newsmagazine shows Aquí y Ahora (Here and Now) and Primer Impacto (First Impact); as well as morning-news segments on Despierta América (Wake Up America). In the last year, Univision has strengthened its news team and expanded its news operations by adding investigative and documentary units.

About the Investigative Reporting Program (IRP)

The Investigative Reporting Program at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism is dedicated to promoting and protecting the practice of investigative reporting. The IRP’s prize-winning work has appeared on PBS FRONTLINE, FRONTLINE/WORLD, NPR and PBS NewsHour and in publications such as Mother Jones, The New York TimesLos Angeles TimesTime magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle.

About the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR)

Investigative reporting is an essential pillar of a democratic society. For more than three decades, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) has relentlessly pursued and revealed injustices that otherwise would remain hidden from the public. CIR stories have received numerous journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton, George Polk Award, Emmy Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Its reports have sparked state and federal hearings and legislation, public-interest lawsuits and changes in corporate policies. For more information, please visit

Press Contacts

FRONTLINE, Patrice Taddonio, (617) 300-5375,
Univision News, Jose Zamora, (305) 790-3793,
Center for Investigative Reporting, Meghann Farnsworth, (510) 809-2213,
Investigative Reporting Program, Alisha Klatt, (510) 643-1299, Download promotional photography from the PBS Pressroom.

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