Two years ago, Jamie Leigh Jones came forward to accuse her co-workers at government contractor Halliburton/KBR of drugging and gang-raping her on the job in Baghdad, locking her in a shipping container, and then threatening to fire her if she left the country for medical treatment. Here is the video of her shocking testimony:
Apparently, Jones was given a rape-kit in Baghdad, but the incriminating evidence was mysteriously destroyed before a sympathetic guard finally allowed Jones to call her father in Texas and report the situation. For the past two years, Jones has been trying to bring the case to court, but Halliburton has fought her right to press charges on the grounds that she signed a contract preventing company employees from publicly pursuing criminal charges against co-workers.
Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) stepped up in defense of gang-rape victims such as Jones (others have since come forward with similar allegations) and introduced an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill that would withhold government funding from defense contractors “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” Here is his speech:
Senator Franken’s amendment was actually opposed by 30 Republican Senators (all men), including John McCain (R-AZ) and Louisiana’s own David Vitter (R-LA), who view the rape victim protection amendment as a “political attack” against Halliburton. The only four female Republican Senators voted in favor of the amendment, apparently moved by Jones’ testimony before the Senate, and the amendment passed by a vote of 68-30.
So, let me get this straight: Woman is gang-raped by employees at Halliburton. Halliburton destroys evidence and denies her a fair trail, based on fine print in her contract that she didn’t realize she was signing. Senator Franken steps up to protect her and other rape victims’ right to be heard in court, and 30 Republican men call this an unfair attack against Halliburton?
I can’t even wrap my mind around it. The GOP has reached a new low. Why are we protecting Halliburton/KBR over the thousands of women working for these corporations that are at risk of being gang-raped and then restricted from trial? What kind of sinister company slips fine print into its contract preventing sexual assault and battery victims from bringing their cases to court, essentially backing and encouraging their mostly male employees to target female co-workers without legal repercussions?
Alternet posted a list of the Senators (mostly from the South, interestingly) who voted against this amendment, and I will re-post it in hopes that at least one voter will think twice before re-electing one of these men to office: