News & Politics

To Profit-Driven Contractors: All Rape Cases Must Go Before the Law, Period

The horrifying case of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was allegedly gang raped in Iraq shows how corporate interests take priority over human life.

Say, here's a concept: if you act to keep violent criminals out of jail, you are probably not working in your country's best interests, and shouldn't be called upon to defend it. It's a notion that was passed into law recently, with U.S. senator Al Franken's amendment to the defense appropriations bill stating that military contractors which prohibit their employees from taking rape and sexual assault cases to court would not receive funding or contracts from the U.S. government.

The impetus for the bill -- and the resistance against it -- sheds light on how rape can be excused or minimized and how the interests of corporations can take priority over human life.

In Baghdad in 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones claims, she was gang-raped by her colleagues at KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton. Her injuries, including torn pectoral muscles, tearing of her vagina and anus and ruptured breast implants, were confirmed by a physician, who said they were consistent with rape. He then handed the rape kit over to her employer, KBR. And KBR, according to Jones, locked her in a storage container, posted an armed guard outside of her door and denied her food and water.

The rape kit given to KBR disappeared, not to be seen again until 2007. When it resurfaced, it was missing doctors' notes and photographs -- which, along with the fact that Jones was drugged and could identify only one of her assailants, effectively annihilated her chances in a criminal case. KBR also denied her the right to take them even to a civil court, saying that what had been done to her was a mere "personal injury in the workplace," and could -- according to her contract -- be resolved only by arbitration.