Violence against women and agricultural workers of the Italian food system

On 25 November, while marking the International Day to Eliminate violence against Women, ARI Associazione Rurale Italiana put out a statement in support of farm workers who face systemic violence everyday.

Read the full statement below;

This November 25, International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence, we want to make visible the violence against women and agricultural workers, victims of the systemic violence on which the Italian food system is also based.

The moment of crisis that we are going through has worsened a situation that was already serious. Instead of regularizing and protecting those who guarantee food supplies for everyone during the pandemic, the Italian government has further violated their rights. In Italy, the announcement of the amnesty under the new ministerial decree “Rilancio” to regularize “foreigners” in the agricultural sector has been a total failure. Irregular work has increased, and the lack of health and hygiene measures has favoured contagion both in the workplace and in the home. Those who managed to reach Italy were exposed to risk, and those who were already there remained in poverty and illegality, with a greater workload, in overcrowded “ghettos” and without basic services. They were forced to face the daily violence of intermediaries and the organization of work in the fields.

Today Italy depends on foreign workers, who represent around a third of regular employees. In 2020, Italy authorized the entry of 20,000 temporary workers not from the European Union, of which 6,000 belong to the agricultural sector, in addition to those who come from European Union countries. Although they constitute the most important pillar of the world’s food supply, agricultural workers continue to be the last link in the chain of labor exploitation. They are, precisely, “invisible”, as invisible as the violence that we want to denounce today.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence, we demand RIGHT NOW:

  • The recognition of the central role of agricultural workers in guaranteeing food sovereignty;
  • The regularization of the “invisible”, the dismantling of ghettos, the right to housing, access to safe and dignified living conditions for all women and agricultural workers, adults and children, and, at the same time, respect for their rights and well-being;
  • Compliance with health and hygiene standards in all workplaces linked to the food chain, from production to processing and transportation of food;
  • The inclusion and respect of social conditions in the national and regional strategic plans of the common agricultural policy (CAP), which has just been approved by the European Parliament and which finally establishes how public funds should not be granted to those who commit crimes related to labor exploitation;
  • The recognition and strengthening of the role of women, who produce half of the world’s food, but who are the first victims of patriarchal systems. In particular, we demand an end to violence against women in the rural sector and in cities, as established in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Peasants in its Article 4.

We want just food systems based on the principles of Food Sovereignty right now. We want societies where violence is replaced by caring for the land and those who work it!