Archive for the ‘Take Action’ Category

Our vegetables and fruits come with a side of rape and sexual abuse. That’s right. Rape.

Did you know that many of the farm workers who pick our fruits and vegetables are undocumented? It isn’t enough that they’re underpaid and exploited for their labor. Many are also raped and sexually assaulted while being threatened with being fired if they say something.

It is almost as if immigrant bodies have become public property. Property for many to use and misuse as they please. From not having access to health services, being deported and exploited to being raped.

The fear of deportation and of not being able to provide for their families forces immigrants to stay silent. But not anymore.

Frontline‘s latest documentary entitled, Rape in the Fields, follows a group of women who are raped and/or assaulted at work. The documentary also highlights the rape culture that dominates our society inside and outside of the fields. It is a heartbreaking film that will also make you angry. Angry at the injustice that happens right here in our fields and gets packaged with our food but no justice is served. Check out Rape in the Fields while it is still available online and spread the word.


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Gloria Malone is a young mother

Gloria Malone is a young mother

Gloria’s school counselor refused to speak to her when she became pregnant in her sophomore year in high school. Not only was she left without support at her school, but she also faced criticism within her community. Her daughter is now 6 years old.

Gloria is currently a student at Baruch College, proving to the non-believers that young mothers can make a difference. Her participation in our Young Moms training and our Young Mothers Briefing in Washington, D.C. fed her passion to become an advocate for young mothers. She strives to let other young mothers know that they are not alone and are more than a statistic. When asked why she got involved with NLIRH’s Young Moms, she said, “I want to be part of the change.”

Training with the young mothers.

Training with the young mothers.

NLIRH is the only national Latina health and reproductive justice organization representing an increasingly diverse and growing Latina population in this country. With the generous donations we received last year, throughout 2012 we were able to:

  • Train 10 young mothers on issues that affect Latinas and reproductive health.
  • Mobilized a group of young mothers to attend a briefing in Washington D.C. where they spoke to policymakers, hill staffers, advocates and allies about their experiences and the ways in which they can support young mothers.

NLIRH is committed to continuing its work with and on behalf of young mothers by providing more trainings and support. Through our work we hope to continue to grow and create change within our communities and the lives of our members. Please show that you too are part of the change and believe in the work that we do by making a tax deductible donation today.

Thank you in advance for your generosity and we wish you a Poderosa 2013!

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I’d like to tell you about Paula.

Paula talking to a group in South Texas

Paula is a busy mom who works two part-time jobs to support her four children (ages 2 to 18 years old). Frustrated and concerned about the lack of access to adequate healthcare in her community, when Paula heard about our Texas Promotora Training earlier this month, she immediately signed up. Paula says:

There were close to 30 women who attended the training…by the end of that training I saw the transformation. That’s what caught my attention, how through education…it empowers women, how it can make them become a true leader.

Paula is now one of our active leaders in Texas, educating and advocating for reproductive justice in her community.

Paula is just one of many activists we’ve worked with this year, to bring them bilingual tools and information they’ve used to mobilize their communities.

As the end of the year draws to a close, we’re asking you, our loyal supporters, to consider a tax-deductible donation to NLIRH in your year-end giving.

With the support we received last year, in 2012 we also accomplished:

  • Training close to 500 Latinas and Latinos between the ages of ages 18 – 39 years old throughout the country, and particularly in the Southeast, on leadership, advocacy and reproductive rights;
  • Reaching a record media audience of nearly 125 million people in both English and Spanish which is over thirty times the media reach we had in 2011; and
  • Launching our ¡Soy Poderosa! (I am powerful) civic engagement campaign designed to engage, mobilize, and highlight civic participation by Latinas and Latinos throughout the country. Through this campaign we’ve achieved some key victories in Florida and Texas, and activated communities throughout the nation through social media.

We’re already planning and preparing for 2013, which is already jammed packed with more leadership trainings, research, legislator visits, communications activities and much more. But we need your help. Become a Poderosa and make a tax deductible contribution to NLIRH!

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A decision by the Obama Administration may come down very soon that could expand the religious exemption to our recently hard-won victory of contraception without co-pays for new insurance plans.  That would mean that Latinas who work for religiously-affiliated schools, universities and hospitals could be denied coverage for birth control.

There are many reasons the Administration should not expand the religious exemption for birth control coverage, which currently is narrow and applies to health insurance plans for places of worship (which women’s health groups also oppose.)  One major reason is the simple fact that 98% of sexually-experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including Catholic women.  The myth that all Latinas are Catholic and therefore all oppose birth control is false.  Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, resoundingly support the women’s preventive coverage benefit.  In fact, 89% of Latina voters aged 18-34 support the requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control at no cost.

We know that family planning is central to the wellness of women and their families.  Eliminating expensive co-pays could also expand access to contraception for Latinas, who cite the high cost of birth control as a barrier to consistent use. Far more important than the decision are the real impacts this could have on women who already struggle to make ends meet.  For example, in these tough economic times, more women are seeking to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancies.  Still, unintended pregnancies are rising among poor women who do not have the resources to purchase contraception.  In 2006, a poor woman in the U.S. was four times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy as an affluent woman, and this disparity is likely to have increased with the recent “Great Recession.”

Taking away this benefit from millions of Latinas and their families has no basis in the law, is bad health policy, and is contrary to overwhelming public opinion.

Instead of caving to aggressive lobbying, the Administration should seize this opportunity to address the issue at hand; women’s reproductive rights.  With groundswell of support from women’s health organizations and overwhelmingly from the public, the Administration should hop aboard the reproductive health bandwagon to support a standard of care that will respect the dignity of all women.

Latinas and all women deserve access to birth control without co-pays because it prevents unintended pregnancies and keep our families healthy.  We know that contraception is a critical component of both public health initiatives and women’s healthcare, and for millions of Latinas, birth control, by definition, is prevention.

Take action and urge the Obama Administration not to expand the religious exemption.

This post is part of the HERvotes blog carnival. 

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Yesterday courageous undocumented students risked deportation when they were arrested in Chicago for protesting Secure Communities.  The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), stands with these activists and alongside other organizations nationwide that are calling on the Administration to end the controversial immigration enforcement program, Secure Communities, better known as S-Comm.  If there ever was a time to advocate for the importance of safe communities, the time is now!

How does S-Comm work?

Under S-Comm when an individual is arrested, his/her fingerprints are sent to federal immigration databases. If the arrestee’s fingerprints match a record indicating an immigration violation, ICE and local law enforcement are notified.  In most cases, ICE issues a detainer requesting that the jail facility hold the individual up to an extra 48 hours, interviews the arrestee, and decides whether to seek removal of that individual.[1]

Women, communities at risk

While the phrase secure communities inarguably means protecting and keeping communities safe, when it comes to immigrants, our government is doing everything but that.  Not only does S-Comm put immigrant women, their families, and their communities in danger, it perpetuates fear in survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  This program also threatens the progress that our country has made in the last three decades to bring violence against women out from behind closed doors by making women afraid to call the police for help, for fear of arrest and deportation if they are undocumented.

This threat has become even more vivid to women and their families recently.  In the past several months, some localities have announced that they would no longer participate in the program and would not maintain contracts for the program with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because it was hindering their ability to keep their communities safe.  On August 5th, DHS announced that it was going to implement the program whether or not they had a contract with local police authorities.  DHS said it will terminate all contracts with states and localities and proceed without contracts in further implementing the program nationwide, despite calls for the agency to suspend the program.  States will no longer have the option to implement the program, they will have to submit to the demands of the federal government.  Still, the administration insists that S-Comm keeps communities safe, but the truth of the matter is that it does not.

Protecting and serving communities, stymied

S-Comm has had a significant impact on community policing strategies because it undermines local law enforcement’s commitment to keeping communities safe.  Enforcement-only policies create an atmosphere of fear, which threatens the trust of the community.  This only makes it harder to capture criminals.

Economic Impact

Another reason states and municipalities oppose this decision is because states will be required to fully implement this program with no assistance from the federal government.  Clearly, this places a financial burden on already stretched local and state resources to the limit fighting local crime, with no incentives to local communities.  Many states are already struggling to hold on to precious resources that are sustaining important programs and services for communities that so vitally need them.

What is being done? What can you do?

Earlier this month, NLIRH, alongside 60 local and national organizations launched our Second Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice to bring to light the stark reality that hard working women and families are faced with everyday in their rather unsafe communities.  We also applaud the authoritative report by he National Day Labor Organizing Network entitled, Restoring Community: A National Community Advisory Report on ICE’s failed “Secure Communities” Program that uses facts about the program to cut away at rhetoric.  And as we saw yesterday in Chicago, a nationwide effort has been under way this week to put pressure on the Administration to stop this program.  We urge you to take action too.

At NLIRH, we could not think of a program that is more unfair to communities and intrusive of basic human rights.

[1] Center for Reproductive Rights. Briefing Paper: Reproductive Rights Violations as Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: A Critical Human Rights Analysis. New York City, NY: Center for Reproductive Rights;2010:26. Available at: http://reproductiverights.org/en/document/reproductive-rights-violations-as-torture. Accessed on August 4, 2011.

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