Wednesday, October 07, 2009

For Jamie Leigh Jones

I have written of her case in the past, but here's a short summary with the reason for this post:

Today, the amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to stop funding defense contractors who deny assault victims their day in court passed the United States Senate by a vote of 68 - 30

Last Thursday, Sen. Franken introduced an amendment (S.2588) to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill that would restrict funding to defense contractors who commit employees to mandatory binding arbitration in the case of sexual assault. The legislation, endorsed by 61 women's, labor and public interest groups, was inspired by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who watched the vote from the Senate gallery today.

Jones was a 19-yr-old employee of defense contractor KBR (formerly a Halliburton subsidiary) stationed in Iraq who was gang raped by her co-workers and imprisoned in a shipping container when she tried to report the crime. Her father and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.), worked together to secure her safe return to the United States, but once she was home, she learned a fine-print clause in her KBR contract banned her from taking her case to court, instead forcing her into an "arbitration" process that would be run by KBR itself. Just today, Halliburton filed a petition for a rehearing en banc in the 5th Circuit Court, which means that Jamie's fight is far from over.

Good for Senator Franken! And good for us. No military contractor should be outside of the laws of all countries.

The vote distribution in the Senate is fascinating. The NAYS appear to consist of only Republican men. Those are the people who think that Jamie Leigh Jones SHOULDN'T be allowed to have her day in court but that the people who put her into a packing crate to stop her from reporting the crime are the ones who should decide on the credibility of her case. Funny how that goes, eh?

This offers one great example why having more Democrats in the Congress does matter for women's rights. Though Republican women might do, too.
Links to the current story from Eschaton. For more of my posts on this topic, check here, here and here.