Bodies and Borders: Migrant Women Farmworkers and the Struggle for Sexual and Reproductive Justice in British Columbia, Canada
AbstractIn 2016, nearly 7,000 Mexican men and women arrived in BC under the federally-administered Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). While all farmworkers face similar workplace hazards, women farmworkers face unique barriers to their reproductive health and wellbeing such as intense surveillance, sexual harassment, and unwanted pregnancies. The reproductive health of women in the SAWP is under-researched. Even less is known about women’s experiences in the interior of British Columbia. Based on insights gained in the field and through community-based research and advocacy efforts, this paper outlines what is currently known about women SAWP workers’ struggles to attain full reproductive justice. We discuss the unique factors that affect the reproductive health and sexual experiences of SAWP workers in particular. Ultimately, we argue that women SAWP workers face disproportionate barriers when accessing reproductive healthcare and that their sexual behaviour is heavily controlled through a variety of legal and extra-legal mechanisms. We conclude with a discussion on how migrant women creatively resist restrictions imposed upon them, and we make recommendations aimed at improving the experiences of women SAWP workers attempting to achieve reproductive justice in BC.
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