Frontline; https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/rape-on-the-night-shift/; June 23, 2015
It must stop. Rape, sexual abuse, and harassment are happening behind closed doors into the night while everybody sleeps. This act of violence is being covered up because of fear or social status. Who would believe an illegal immigrant over a well off, popular individual of the society, sexually abused her? Frontline investigated groups of women who were sexually harassed including raped that make up a large percent of the hidden workforce, those who clean during the nightshift when most associates are gone.
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The violence that is happening behind closed doors and away from daily life tends to be undiscovered and go unnoticed. This goes unnoticed until several women stand up and take to the streets, news outlets, and courtrooms. Sometimes a type of violence needs to be plastered on T.V.s across America for an unnoticed problem to become a social issue.
In early 2016, leaders of the janitor’s union in California realized they needed to change focus from pay and work conditions to sexual harassment prevention and protection due to the fact most of their associates were involved in some sort of sexual harassment (Yeung). Women across California raised up and let their voice be known building a wall of support with the help of the documentary, “Rape on the Night Shift”. This movement inspired other women and men of sexual violence in and out of the workplace to speak up. As numbers increased another movement was born; named the “me too” movement. Starting from a small group of women Janitors in California transformed into national dialogue across the country within six months of “me too” creation (Team). This once hidden issue has the attention across America and people are taking a stand and demanding action.
One tends to wonder, why do the women not quit or report it to the police immediately? Many of these janitors are working in America illegally. They fear repercussions if they go to the police or the companies HR department. Some feel embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, and shocked; they wish to forget the trauma that was inflicted upon them. Most earn minimum wage and are working hard to put food on the table, they cannot lose their job. Much of these women are assaulted by a supervisor and are told nobody will believe them and in most cases they are correct. It is a very long and hard case to prove they were assaulted, so most never pursue any litigation.
Much of the men who commit these horrible acts fall into the control theory, stating everybody has violent tendencies, but most do not act on them (Henslin). They are too weak to control themselves and giving in to their sexual, manipulative impulses. Some men classify as “Woman Haters”, they are in power and demand control over the woman by physically showing her that he does overpower her and some classify as “Sadist’s” being brought up in a broken home, around sexual violence, now they are “in-charge” they are able to inflict the damage toward someone else that was inflicted toward them growing up (Henslin).
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A once hidden crime has now been brought to light and social concerns are demanding change, prevention, and litigation. AB 1978 is a strong and powerful bill changing the world of sexual harassment as we know it. Businesses and HR departments across America have failed over the past years to reduce crimes in the workplace. AB 1978 addresses sexual violence and harassment enhancing repercussions and reprisal concerns, now workers have a clear direction and legal support against mistreatment (Estrada).
A group of late-night janitors took a stand and let their voices be heard across America. Society is realizing this is a larger issue and have their backs, changing laws and putting new ones in place. As America grows and focuses on improvement, America will continue to fight battles of social and moral wrongdoings.
- Estrada, Michael. Boost for Janitors as Historic Law is Passed. 8 March 2017. Article. 21 July 2019. <https://compliancetraininggroup.com/blog/boost-for-janitors-as-historic-law-is-passed/>.
- Henslin, James M. Social Problems A Down to Earth Approach. Vol. Eleventh Edition. New York, NY.: Pearson, 2014. Chapter 1.
- Team, Me Too. Me Too Movement. 2018. Nonprofit Business Movement. 21 July 2019. <https://metoomvmt.org/about/>.
- Yeung, Bernice. A Group of Janitors Started a Movement to Stop Sexual Abuse. 16 January 2018. Article. 21 July 2019. <https://www.revealnews.org/article/a-group-of-janitors-started-a-movement-to-stop-sexual-abuse/>.