Immigrant women are more likely to confront poverty, violence and exploitation than any other demographic in America. While apparently gender-neutral, our national immigration policies often place women at a disadvantage, compromising their personal and economic security.
Legal Momentum, represented by Kaye Scholer LLP, has filed an amicus curiae brief in the state of Washington, in support of a plaintiff with legal immigrant status who was battered by her spouse and struggled to find independence due to the termination of government funded food assistance for immigrants. Battered women, like the plaintiff, are be forced to stay in or return to abusive relationships due to lack of financial support. Learn more about the Immigrant Women Program.
The Millennials, Abortion and Religion Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and released at the Brookings Institution, is one of the largest public opinion surveys on abortion and religion ever conducted. The survey also finds that there are large generational differences on two issues that have often been linked in political discourse: abortion and same sex marriage.
A solid majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all (19%) or most (37%) cases, compared to 4-in-10 who say it should be illegal in all (14%) or most (26%) cases.
With the exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all major religious groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
A majority of Americans across the political spectrum say it is more socially acceptable today to be “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life.”
Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) Americans say that at least some health care professionals in their communities should provide legal abortions.
With the exception of white evangelical Protestants and Latino Catholics, majorities of all major religious groups agree that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions.
Americans who live in large metropolitan areas are much more likely than those who live in rural communities to say legal abortion services should be available in their community (67% vs. 39% respectively).
The binary “pro-choice”/“pro-life” labels do not reflect the complexity of Americans’ views on abortion. Seven-in-ten Americans say the term “pro-choice” describes them somewhat or very well, and nearly two-thirds simultaneously say the term “pro-life” describes them somewhat or very well. This overlapping identity is present in virtually every demographic group.
The decoupling of attitudes on abortion and same-sex marriage suggests that these topics, which served in the past as the heart of the “values” agenda, are no longer necessarily linked in the minds of Americans.
Roughly the same percentage of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases in 1999 (57%) as say this today (56%).
In contrast, the percentage of Americans who said marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized by the law as valid has grown 18 points over this same period, from 35% in 1999 to 53% in 2011.
Millennials are less supportive of legal abortion than their demographic profile would suggest.
Millennials generally have traits associated with higher levels of support for the legality of abortion: they are more educated, more liberal, and more likely to be religiously unaffiliated.
Millennials exemplify the decoupling of attitudes on legal abortion and same-sex marriage. They are much more likely than the general public to favor same-sex marriage, but they are not significantly more likely than the general public to support the legality of abortion (60% vs. 56% in the general public).
Millennials have largely positive top of mind associations with same-sex marriage but have largely negative top of mind associations with abortion.
Millennials are conflicted about the morality of abortion, but most say same gender sexual relationships are morally acceptable. Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) Millennials say sex between two adults of the same gender is morally acceptable, compared to only 46% who say having an abortion is morally acceptable.
Unlike all other age groups, Millennials register different levels of support for the availability and legality of abortion. On the one hand, Millennials are strongly committed to the availability of abortion and are significantly more likely than the general public to say that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions (68% vs. 58% respectively). But they are no more likely than the general public to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. These findings suggest general measures of legality may not fully capture support for legal abortion among Millennials.
On the issue of abortion, Americans hold complex and sometimes contradictory views, and grasping this complexity is critical for understanding the dynamics of the debate.
Approximately 3-in-10 Americans hold decidedly mixed views about the circumstances in which having an abortion should be possible. When measured on a composite scale of support for abortion in five specific circumstances, 43% say abortion should be possible in most or all of these circumstances, 29% say abortion should not be possible in most or all of these circumstances, and 28% hold decidedly mixed views.
Majorities of Americans simultaneously say abortion is morally wrong (52%) and that it should be legal in all or most cases (56%).
The study identified and tested a number of hypotheses about independent influences on attitudes about the legality of abortion. The following factors are independent predictors of support for the legality of abortion, even when controlling for other demographic characteristics:
Having a situationalist rather than a principle-based approach to morality has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Knowing someone who has had an abortion has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Having seen MTV’s reality shows about unmarried pregnant teenagers has a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Recently seeing an ultrasound image of a fetus has a negative impact on support for the legality of abortion.
Among Americans who attend church at least once or twice a month, majorities report hearing their clergy talk about the issue of abortion (54%) or homosexuality (51%) in church. Catholics are significantly more likely than Protestants to hear about abortion in church.
More than 7-in-10 (72%) religious Americans believe it is possible to disagree with the teachings of their religion on the issue of abortion and still be considered a person of good standing in their faith. A majority of all major religious groups, including Catholics and white evangelical Protestants agree with this statement.
According to a report by the Women's Justice Taskforce in the UK, effective community sentences that command the confidence of the courts, rather than incarceration, should cut women’s offending, reduce the women’s prison population and save the public purse.
Over the past 15 years the women’s prison population has risen from 1,800 to over 4,000 today – an increase of 114%. Most women serve short sentences for non-violent crime and for those serving sentences of less than 12 months, almost two thirds are re-convicted within a year of release. The average cost of a women’s prison place is £56,415 a year. By contrast, an intensive community order costs in the region of £10,000 - £15,000.
The Taskforce was established in 2010 by the Prison Reform Trust, supported by the Bromley Trust, to take a fresh look at an old problem this time focussing on the economics, structure and accountability of women’s justice. Chaired by Fiona Cannon OBE, Diversity and Inclusion Director at Lloyds Banking Group, its membership includes senior representatives from the Magistrates’ Association, the Association of Chief Police Officers, probation, prisons, women’s centres, politics, the media and former offenders. The report, Reforming Women’s Justice, includes an economic analysis by Dr James Robertson, former chief economist at the National Audit Office.
The report makes clear that the current economic climate and the government’s proposed overhaul of the justice system provide a timely opportunity to look again at how women’s justice is delivered. The government's programme to reduce unnecessary imprisonment should be accelerated, and the money saved from the women’s prison estate reinvested to support effective services for female offenders in the community. Many of the solutions to women’s offending lie outside of the justice system in health, housing, and treatment for drug addiction and mental health needs. This demands a coordinated cross-departmental approach. The report calls for greater ministerial accountability and a cross-government strategy for women’s justice with accountability built into relevant roles within government departments and local authorities.
The Taskforce says lessons can be learnt from reform of the youth justice system where, in contrast to women, there has been a measurable reduction in the numbers of children in prison, the numbers of young people entering the justice system for the first time, and in youth offending. It suggests that proposals in the Ministry of Justice’s green paper, Breaking the Cycle, to devolve youth custody budgets to local authorities should be extended to women’s custodial provision.
Dr Robertson’s economic analysis draws on evidence that investing in appropriate alternatives to custody for women could reduce intergenerational offending and is more cost effective than prison in the long term. Women released from custody having served a sentence of less than 12 months are more likely to reoffend than those who received a community order; in 2008 the difference in proven reoffending rates was 8.3%. An estimated 17,700 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment and only 5% of them remain in their own home whilst their mother is in custody. According to Dr Robertson, research studies to date support the likelihood of “an overall net advantage for society from community based intervention for women offenders, compared to custodial sentences.”
However, while women’s prisons are funded centrally through the National Offender Management Service, women’s centres rely on a wide range of funding sources to enable them to supervise court orders and deliver services for vulnerable women in their area. The Taskforce heard evidence from the manager of one centre that was reliant on 37 different funding streams, with a mixture of statutory and non-statutory sources, all with different methods of evaluation and reporting arrangements.
On 11 May 2011 the Ministry of Justice announced a one off joint funding package of £3.2m between the National Offender Management Service and the Corston Independent Funders’ Coalition to keep women centres open for 2011/12. The report states: “Whilst this is undoubtably positive news, the current situation of regular funding crises and last minute rescues is counterproductive and should be resolved ... What is currently unclear is the criteria by which projects will be assessed, and the levels of funding that will be available.”
In January through March of 2010, SPLC researchers interviewed approximately 150 women who were either currently undocumented or have spent time in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. The women all have worked in the U.S. food industry in Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, New York or North Carolina. A few have now obtained legal status. Researchers also interviewed a number of advocates who work with immigrant women and farmworkers. The interviews were conducted almost exclusively in Spanish, and recordings were transcribed and translated into English.
From the report summary:
Facts About Immigrant Women Working in the U.S. Food Industry
Undocumented women are among the most vulnerable workers in our society today. They fill the lowest paying jobs in our economy and provided the backbreaking labor that helps bring food to our tables. Yet they are routinely cheated out of wages and subjected to an array of other abuses in the workplace. They are generally powerless to enforce their rights or protect themselves. The following are facts from the SPLC report Injustice on Our Plates.
There are an estimated 4.1 million undocumented women in the U.S. today. In addition, 4 million U.S.-born children — citizens by birthright — live in a household with at least one undocumented parent.
Undocumented women typically earn minimum wage or less, get no sick or vacation days, and receive no health insurance.
Legalizing undocumented workers would raise the U.S. gross domestic product by $1.5 trillion over a decade. On the other hand, if the government were to deport all 10.8 million undocumented immigrants living on U.S. soil, our economy would decline by $2.6 trillion over a decade, not including the massive cost of such an endeavor.
Each year, undocumented immigrants contribute as much as $1.5 billion to the Medicare system and $7 billion to the Social Security system, even though they will never be able to collect benefits upon retirement.
There are an estimated 3 million migrant and seasonal farmworkers employed in the United States.4 The federal government estimates that 60 percent of farmworkers are undocumented immigrants; farmworker advocates say the percentage is far higher.
The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) published by the Department of Labor reports that about 22% of the farmworker population is female. Thus, there are an estimated 630,000 women engaged in farm work in the United States.
The average personal income of female crop workers is $11,250, compared to $16,250 for male crop workers.
A mere 8 percent of farmworkers report being covered by employer-provided health insurance, a rate that dropped to 5 percent for farmworkers who are employed seasonally and not year-round.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, farmworkers suffer from higher rates of toxic chemical injuries and skin disorders than any other workers in the country. The children of migrant farmworkers, also, have higher rates of pesticide exposure than the general public.
Each year, there are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 cases of physician-diagnosed pesticide poisoning among U.S. farmworkers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Farmworkers are not covered by workers’ compensation laws in many states. They are not entitled to overtime pay under federal law. On smaller farms and in short harvest seasons, they are not entitled to the federal minimum wage. They are excluded from many state health and safety laws.
Because of special exemptions for agriculture, children as young as 10 may work in the fields. Also, many states exempt farmworker children from compulsory education laws.
Almost a quarter of the workers who butcher and process meat, poultry and fish are undocumented.
At least half of the 250,000 laborers in 174 of the major U.S. chicken factories are Latino and more than half are women.
Working in a chicken factory is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. Line workers endure a frigid and wet work environment, without adequate bathroom breaks, while being exposed to numerous hazards handling chicken on hangers that whiz by a rate of hundreds per minute. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not enacted any regulation to limit the speed at which poultry and meat processing lines operate — despite the appallingly high rates of injury directly attributable to the line speed. In the decade ending in 2008, 100 poultry workers died in the U.S., and 300,000 were injured, many suffering the loss of a limb or debilitating repetitive motion injuries.
The U.S. Department of Labor surveyed 51 poultry processing plants and found 100% had violated labor laws by not paying employees for all hours worked. Also, one-third took impermissible deductions from workers’ pay.
Sexual Abuse On the Job
In a recent study of 150 women of Mexican descent working in the fields in California’s Central Valley, 80% said they had experienced sexual harassment. That compares to roughly half of all women in the U.S. workforce who say they have experienced at least one incident.
While investigating the sexual harassment of California farmworker women in the mid-1990s, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that “hundreds, if not thousands, of women had to have sex with supervisors to get or keep jobs and/or put up with a constant barrage of grabbing and touching and propositions for sex by supervisors.”
A 1989 article in Florida indicates that sexual harassment against farmworker women was so pervasive that women referred to the fields as the “green motel.” Similarly, the EEOC reports that women in California refer to the fields as “fil de calzon,” or the fields of panties, because sexual harassment is so widespread.
Due to the many obstacles that confront farmworker women — including fear, shame, lack of information about their rights, lack of available resources to help them, poverty, cultural and/or social pressures, language access and, for some, their status as undocumented immigrants — few farmworker women ever come forward to seek justice for the sexual harassment and assault that they have suffered.
In interviews for this report, virtually all women reported that sexual violence in the workplace is a serious problem.
A report from the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at SUNY Albany finds that women make up 23% of all federal judgeships and 27% of all state-level judgeships. Vermont leads the nation with 40% of positions held by women; Idaho has the fewest women judges at only 11%.
Highlights: Women on Federal and State Benches in 2011 (from the report)
No state has achieved equal representation of women (50% of all seats) in either federal or state-level judgeships.
In the U.S., women make up 23% of all federal judgeships and 27% of all state-level positions. This represents an overall 1% increase from 2010 levels, which were 22% and 26% respectively.
In 2011, women accounted for 26.6% of both federal and state-level judgeships.
Compared with their 2010 levels, women’s share of federal and state judgeships has increased in 65% of states, remained at the same levels in 22% of states, and decreased in 14% of states.
Vermont retained its first place ranking in terms of the percentage of women on federal and state benches. With 40% of seats occupied by women on its federal and state benches, Vermont is approaching parity.
Idaho also retained its 2010 last place ranking among other states. Only 11% of seats on federal and state benches are occupied by women.
Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, SUNY Albany
Submitted by sbanerjee on Thu, 05/05/2011 - 9:47am
A year ago, Arizona passed one of the most restrictive anti-immigration bills in the nation: SB 1070. The bill criminalized undocumented individuals and sparked a trend of copycat legislation introduced in 30 states. While most efforts were unsuccessful, SB 1070 and copycat laws have severe negative implications for undocumented individuals and their families, including American citizen children. SB 1070 and similar legislation erode worker protections and the civil rights of undocumented immigrants, compromise the fiscal health of states, and place an undue strain on local law enforcement.
Submitted by sbanerjee on Mon, 05/02/2011 - 11:30am
The Equal Opportunity Commission and U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and the Women's Bureau present Earning What You're Worth: Defending Your Right to Equal Pay.
Despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women in the U.S. still earn only 80 cents for every $1 men earn. Join us to listen to a panel of advocates, a panel of attorneys, and a guest equal pay expert discuss this issue, and learn what employees can do to to help close this wage gap. Two New York State CLE credits will be available for attendance and participation.
Date: Thursday, May 5, 2011 Time: 8:45a.m.-12p.m. Location: EEOC-New York District Office, 33 Whitehall St.-11th Floor Conference Room, New York, NY
Since May 2008, Pamela Shifman has served as the Director of Initiatives for Women and Girls at the NoVo Foundation, where she directs its work on empowering adolescent girls in the developing world and ending violence against girls and women. Prior to joining NoVo, she worked at UNICEF, working closely with its country offices in Darfur, Sudan, Eastern Congo, Liberia, Nepal and other conflict affected countries to improve efforts to end violence against girls and women. Pamela also served as the Co-Executive Director of Equality Now, where she focused on trafficking of girls and women and sex tourism, and acted as legal advisor for the ANC Parliamentary Women's Caucus in South Africa. She has taught Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan and at Hunter College, and holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.
Juhu Thukral is the Director of Law and Advocacy at The Opportunity Agenda. She has been an advocate for the rights of low-income and immigrant women in the areas of sexual health and rights, gender-based violence, economic security, and criminal justice for 20 years. Prior to joining The Opportunity Agenda, Ms. Thukral was the founder and Director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City. She founded the Sex Workers Project in 2001, after recognizing the strong need for an organization that protects the legal rights of sex workers, many of whom are low-income and immigrant women of color. Ms. Thukral envisioned and developed the SWP’s legal and programmatic initiatives around sex work and human rights, trafficking in persons, and economic security. She also raised the funding for the project and managed its partnerships with a diverse array of collaborating organizations.
Mallika Dutt is the President and CEO of Breakthrough, a global human rights organization that uses the power of media, pop culture and community mobilization to inspire people to take bold action for dignity, equality and justice. Ms. Dutt has served as Program Officer for Human Rights at the Ford Foundation's New Delhi Office and as the Associate Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University. She is a founder of SAKHI for South Asian Women. Ms. Dutt is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and currently serves on Boards of WITNESS, the Open Society Institute US Programs, and Games for Change, and on the Rights Working Group Steering Committee.