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Spain: Labour shortages following COVID-19 border closures expose Moroccan women working on fruit farms to new forms of exploitation

“Women picking fruit for UK supermarkets ‘facing new forms of exploitation’”, 03 June 2020

Women picking strawberries in Spain … are facing new forms of exploitation… as the industry is hit by labour shortages caused by … coronavirus...

… [A] coalition of rights groups and lawyers have appealed to the United Nations … investigate … deteriorating working conditions and a lack of protection … against Covid-19...

Every year thousands of migrant workers, mainly women, travel to southern Spain from Morocco on a bilateral visa arrangement to pick … fruit…

Spain’s strawberry industry has been plagued by allegations that some Moroccan women working in its export fruit industry have suffered sexual violence, exploitation and assault…

Ana Pinto, spokesperson of Jornaleras en Lucha, the workers’ rights group in Huelva, said the labour shortage [following the pandemic] had led to already vulnerable migrant workers being placed under more pressure...

… “… [C]onditions in the field are …  much more abusive, [the workers are] having to pick many more kilos, and having to do more overtime.

Wilson [a legal advocate at Women’s Link Worldwide in Madrid] said: “… Covid 19 crisis is exacerbating existing gender inequalities. These women are vulnerable because they have families … who are dependent on their income.”

Wilson said ... it will be even harder to challenge rights abuses as coronavirus has caused huge delays in the justice system.