Women and Politics

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Archive for the ‘Sexual Assault Legislation’ Category

One-Third of the Senate (All Male) Votes to Deny Sexual Assault Due Process

By WCF Fellow Trish

Detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, 19 year-old Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. Not only was Ms. Jones deterred from seeking medical treatment under the threat of being fired, she was prevented from justice and due process by a binding contract. That’s right: her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations could only be heard by “private arbitration,” and not in a U.S. court of law.

Ms. Jones is a single example of countless, similar cases.

Let me remind you, lest you forget, that Halliburton and KBR aren’t just privately funded companies. They operate in Iraq on government defense contracts-on YOUR dollar.

This is why Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) yesterday proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” Speaking on the Senate floor Franken said:

“The constitution gives everybody the right to due process of law … And today, defense contractors are using fine print in their contracts do deny women like Jamie Leigh Jones their day in court. … The victims of rape and discrimination deserve their day in court [and] Congress plainly has the constitutional power to make that happen.”

By a 68-30 vote, the U.S. Senate passed Senator Al  Franken’s amendment. All 17 female Senators, regardless of party, voted in favor of the amendment. But the 30 men who voted against it, obviously, outnumber those women. Isn’t that a sign that we need more women in the Senate? If we had 30 more women in the Senate (for a total of 47 women, still under half), imagine how different that’d 68-30 vote would look.

Appearing with Franken after the vote, an elated Jones expressed her appreciation:

“It means the world to me,” she said of the amendments passage. “It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it.”

For the likes of Ms. Jones, for likes of all women in the U.S., we need to achieve equality in our legislative body. The thirty votes denying due process to sexual assault victims is yet another indication that we need women to protect “women’s issues” like sexual assault. Because those thirty votes were cast only by men, it shows us that many men, one-third of the Senate, will not.

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