Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Retro Garlic ... Maybe The Next President Needs To Pull Out The Contractors First

It's truly appalling that this situation has occurred, and continues to exist.

Jamie Leigh Jones, the former Halliburton/KBR employee who was gang-raped in Iraq - by her fellow coworkers and contractors - testified yesterday in Congress, as she pursues justice in the case.

Jones told the committee "that she was not aware that when she signed her employment contract, she was effectively signing away her right to bring a lawsuit."

The New York Times has noticed the story today, offering;

"KBR and other companies, meanwhile, have required Iraq-bound employees to agree to take personnel disputes to private arbitration rather than sue the companies in American courts. The companies have repeatedly challenged arbitration claims of sexual assault or harassment brought by women who served in Iraq, raising fears among some women about going public with their claims."

And dday, over on Hullabaloo has Raped And In Legal Limbo, telling the story of Mary Beth Kineston and her sexual harassment and assault, as well as Jones' case;
"Mary Beth Kineston is not the only woman. According to former Halliburton employee and gang-rape victim Jennifer Leigh Jones, 38 women have told their stories of rape and assault to her, but none can come forward due to arbitration agreements"

The Retro Part

Last December, The Garlic took note of the story, in "Along With Shooting Innocent Civilians, We've, Apparently, Outsourced Rape, As Well";
As reported by ABC's Brian Ross (along with Maddy Sauer and Justin Rood), Jamie Leigh Jones, of Houston, was a KBR employee, at the time KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, working in Iraq - in the Green Zone - when she was gang-raped by her own co-workers.

And before you think that was the only horrible incident that occurred;

"...The company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.

With this situation languishing, and woman being abused and assaulted, where is the outrage from our government, and in particular Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice?

And I do not frame this in a gender box.

Rice, and her State Department saw to it, and pretty quickly, that other contractors - Blackwater - got legal immunity, after their employees shot and killed 17 innocent Iraqi civilians.

If Rice can protect the hired guns, why isn't she moving heaven-and-earth to see to it that the female contractors are not abused and assaulted?

Maybe some enterprising journalist can ask the Secretary this in her next press conference.

And, perhaps, the first thing Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, if and when they are elected President, should make pulling all the contractors out of Iraq first - or, at minimum, see to it that the female contractors can perform their jobs and earn their livings without being subjected to horrifying abuse.

No Madam Secretary, it's thumbs down for you, until you begin protecting the female contractors working in Iraq!

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