Friday, October 16, 2009

Is YOUR Senator Pro-Gang-Rape?

Yeah, that's pretty inflamatory. I'm feeling pretty damn inflamed right now, so I think that's appropriate.

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones, a twenty-year-old employee of KBR -- at the time a subsidiary of Halliburton, and hey look, they're hiring -- was working in Iraq. Her co-workers drugged her, gang-raped her, abused her so badly her breasts were disfigured permanently, then locked her in a shipping container for twenty-four hours without food or water. She was told by her employer that if she left Iraq to get medical attention, she'd be fired.

According to an ABC News post:

Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

"I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

"We contacted the State Department first," Poe told, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" -- from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.


Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

Wow, what a shocking misfortune.

Her assailants were never brought to trial, either, neither criminally nor civilly. Why? Because Ms. Jones's employment contract with KBR states that a victim of sexual assault surrenders the right to prosecute their rapists; all such matters must be taken before a private arbitrator, where there's no transcript kept and the proceedings are not public record.

And this is by no means an isolated incident. See the links below for more cases, more women who've been raped and brutalized and threatened while working abroad for defense contractors, coming forward.

So essentially, if you work for one of these companies overseas, your co-workers can gang rape you, leaving you permanently injured, the company you work for can threaten you with the loss of your job if you try to go home for medical help, their security people will "lose" key evidence of the crime against you, and your only recourse is private arbitration. Your assailants will never see prison time, and there'll be no official record of what happened.

Or rather, this was the case until last Tuesday. According to a story in

In one of the most public tests of his political skills since taking office in July, Sen. Al Franken pushed through an amendment Tuesday that would withhold defense contracts from companies like Halliburton if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.

So essentially, if a company tries to create an atmosphere encouraging rape and assault among their employees by preventing victims from seeking prosecution, they're cut off from defense contracts. That's kind of minimal, but since the only thing these people understand is money, it might just work. Note also that the author of the amendment has only been on the job for three months -- way to go, Senator Franken!

But now we get to the part which is relevant to the title of this post. One would think that every person with two brain cells to rub together for mutual warmth would be in favor of this change, but unfortunately that's not the case. Thirty senators -- all Republican, coincidentally I'm sure -- voted against the amendment. Is your senator among them? If so, please write or call and tell them what you think of how they voted.

There's a complete list of how everyone voted on the U.S. Senate web site. This is official, a dot-gov web site; it's not some unofficial nose-count by a partisan press. Is your senator on the "Nay" list?

Also, props to the ten Republican senators who voted for the amendment:

Bennett (R-UT), Collins (R-ME), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchison (R-TX), LeMieux (R-FL), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Snowe (R-ME), and Voinovich (R-OH).

It's pretty sad that voting in favor of punishing gang-rape is something worth particular praise, but still, I applaud these senators for voting for what's right, rather than going along with the Boys-Will-Be-Boys Club.

Thanks to a friend of mine on LJ for giving me a heads-up to this.

More sources:

Celluloid Blonde
Firedog Lake -- Ms. Jones says eleven more women have contacted her about similar incidents
Huffington Post
The Minnesota Independent
The Nation -- and another KBR rape case.
Think Progress -- this one has an embedded video of Sen. Franken's speech.
Think Progress -- this one talks about three other women who've come forward



writtenwyrdd said...

Thanks for sharing this. Horrible thing to have been perpetrated on anyone, but that they covered it up and threatened her, too--I'd like to take a bit of vigilante justice out on those in management who where likely responsible, almost more than my outrage against the actual rapists.

My senators voted for the bill. Al Franken is doing pretty well, isn't he. Wonder if he has presidential plans for later on?

Angie said...

WW -- that's exactly it. The rape itself is awful enough, but when management actively tries to cover it up (and no one's going to convince me that rape kit went missing accidentally), and then a bunch of senators try to block legislation which would at least make an effort at preventing this crap from happening again, or cut it down, or something? Yeah, then it becomes an institutional outrage rather than an individually outrageous incident.


Steve Malley said...

When I first heard about this (on The Daily Show), I was too pissed off to think. Now I'm wondering: wtf were those 'nay' voters thinking?

I mean, leaving their consciences out of it (as I'm sure they must have), what were they thinking? It's not like they were going to kill that bill. And standing up for their corporate masters that way has painted an enormous target on their backs come the next election.

I don't get it...

Angie said...

Steve -- I agree, it makes no sense no matter how you look at it. Even from a cold, selfish, greedy POV, they're not buying themselves anything with this. It's just crazed.

I'm not holding my breath, but I'm hoping that the people who elected these clowns express their displeasure at the ballot in the next election cycle.


Anonymous said...

Go Al Franken! However, it would not surprise me if those senators who voted against the ammendment had received substantial campaign contributions from Haliburton. It also makes me further disgusted and distrustful of Dick Cheney who for decades was actively employed by or on the BOD of Haliburton. And I bet he's right back on the board or payroll now! War Birds Club. New administration, light will get shined on some of these profiteering companies.

Karma's a bitch. (and that's a good thing. lol)

Angie said...

Patrice -- I'll bet you're right, about the campaign donation thing. [nod] I guess that's an honest politician, one who stays bought. :P

I certainly hope the new administration weeds out at least some of this crap. [crossed fingers]


laughingwolf said...

wtf??? what century are those haliburton mofos in? as for the rapists/brutalizers, and 'nay' voters, castration with rusty tin can lid would be too kind! GRRRRRRR

Angie said...

LW -- I have no clue where these people are from, but I do wonder what the weather's like on their planet. :/


RowenaBCherry said...

I agree that it is disgusting and disgraceful. I hope something is done, and that the people who tried to enforce such an unconscionable contract are punished civilly and criminally.

RowenaBCherry said...

Where are the "ethical fund" fund managers and where are the short sellers?

The government may or may not do something, but everyone who owns stock in Halliburton (and other unethical companies of its ilk) should sell.

Angie said...

Rowena -- I certainly hope something is done about the people responsible for this, but the way things usually go I'm not holding my breath. I have a feeling the best we can hope for is laws and regulations like Sen. Franken's amendment which make any company which behaves this way pay for it in their bottom line. :/

And yes, it'd be nice if the ethical fund managers avoided Halliburton and similar companies. Although for all I know, they already do. There are plenty of people willing to go wherever they think there's money and ethics be damned.