things that matter

Female Janitors Who Suffered Abuse Score A Big Win In California

Credit: Seiu Usww / YouTube

“I am that woman that you raped 9 years ago on that night.”

When everyone goes home from work, school or church, the space becomes the janitors domain. Many of these working class janitors tend to be women, they tend to be immigrant mujeres, and for years they have been vulnerable to the worse kind of abuse.

Leticia Soto, a janitor in Los Angeles, was raped nine years ago while working a night shift. In a letter to her attacker, she recounts in graphic detail what happened to her, and the fears she had after (Para español, leer aquí):

I lived for nine years in silence. And I didn’t report you to the authorities. I never went to hospital for fear that they would call the police. I never went to the police for fear that they would call immigration. And we all know what happens when they call immigration on you: separation from your children and deportation. You never paid for your crime. And I never had a day in court to read you this letter. Unfortunately, I am not a student at a prestigious school. I don’t wear the uniform of a profession that is considered important. I am still a janitor on the night shift.

In California, female janitors are getting some help. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1978 on Thursday, September 15, making official a law that would protect women in janitorial services that would otherwise be vulnerable to sexual abuse and rape. The bill creates a requirement that janitorial businesses register with the state and the workers undergo training to address sexual harassment and abuse.

For five days, 18 women, most all of them survivors of rape or abuse, fasted in front of the state capitol of California in hopes of getting the attention of Gov. Brown to sign AB 1978.

PBS Frontline reported about this issue a year ago in their segment “Rape on the Night Shift.” In the story, rape victims recounted graphic stories of abuse, how their attackers would threaten to report them to ICE, and how their supervisors would turn a blind eye toward the abuse. In some cases, their supervisors were the abusers.

I got to see firsthand both the passion these women had and the toll the fast had on them. (I managed the SEIU USWW Twitter and Facebook accounts during the fast). The female janitors came from Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Ana and Los Angeles; were predominantly middle-aged Latinx mothersand it was their first time fasting.

While the women stayed off of their feet throughout the fast, OG visitors like Dolores Huerta, Maria Elena Durazo, and others came out to support the women.

On the last day of the fast, the women broke the fast ceremonially with a piece of bread, and released doves into the air. Georgina Hernandez, another janitor and survivor, with dove in hand said: “I want to throw (this bird) up because it’s very special; it ends our pain.”


READ: A New Documentary Tells the Story of Latinas Who Were Sterilized Without Knowing It

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This Future City Could Be The First Step To Erasing The US/Mexico Border

things that matter

This Future City Could Be The First Step To Erasing The US/Mexico Border

Fernando Romero Enterprise

Mexican architect Fernando Romero has a very ambitious plan: to connect the U.S. and Mexico with one futuristic binational city. This is literally the most extreme take on the erase-the-border narrative.

This border-straddling city is the dream of Mexican architect Fernando Romero.

Fernando Romero Enterprise
CREDIT: Fernando Romero Enterprise

Not only does the city have a touch of the super futuristic, it is also a way of literally erasing the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The city would be anchored between New Mexico and Texas, and would race down to Chihuahua, Mexico. Fernando Romero is hoping to have the city built in 12 years.

The proposed city would take up 3,121,531,000 square feet, roughly 111 square miles.

Fernando Romero Enterprise
CREDIT: Fernando Romero Enterprise

For reference, the city of Los Angeles is about 503 square miles, making this new city one-fifth the size. The red line in the image above shows the U.S.-Mexico border as it exists today.

The architect has really planned this out, and has given glimpses of how the city’s moving pieces–like a train system–would function.

Fernando Romero Enterprise
CREDIT: Fernando Romero Enterprise

“With technology, those borders are just becoming symbolic limits,” Romero told Dezeen Magazine. “The reality is that there exists a very strong mutual dependency of economies and trades.”

And the bus system.

Fernando Romero Enterprise
CREDIT: Fernando Romero Enterprise

“The border is very primitive as a limit,” Romero added. “It operates very efficiently from the north to the south, America to Mexico, because there’s nobody stopping the cars and the traffic, but the other way around it is very inefficient.”

Fernando Romero Enterprise wants to set the standard of future metropolises by studying past examples of cultural blending across borders.

Fernando Romero Enterprise
CREDIT: Fernando Romero Enterprise

“The concept is rooted in the long history of places where frontiers meet, cities where cultures both clash and blend to create something altogether unique, places like Hong Kong, Andorra, Baarle Hertog/Baarle Nassau, and Standstead/Derby Line,” said the press release according to City Lab.

“Border City is the first integrated masterplan for a binational city conducive to both sides of the border, employing tools of enterprise such as special economic zones to argue for its viability,” the press release states, according to City Lab.

Fernando Romero Enterprise
CREDIT: Fernando Romero Enterprise

This seems like the first logical step to finally advancing to the future we all imagine.

The Fifth Element / Gaunt
CREDIT: The Fifth Element / Gaunt

READ: This Mexican Father Crosses Borders Daily For His Children

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