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It has been a few months since I have written a blog for GlobalGrind due to a few factors including writers block and a frustration with ‘the system.’  There’s a not-so-new story that’s back in the media with little progress, and not enough attention. It has struck a cord with me and had my writing juices flowing today.   The story is about a 23-year-old girl, whom at the age of 19 was contracted by KBR (a subsidiary of Halliburton) to go to Baghdad as an administrative assistant. While in Baghdad she was drugged and gang-raped vaginally and anally. She awoke naked with blood running down her legs, lacerations in her vagina and anus, bruised wrists, and inner thighs. Her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn requiring her later to have reconstructive surgery. She was able to get medical attention from the U.S. Army, and not KBR medical, where physician Jodi Schultz examined and collected evidence for the rape kit. Schutlz was ordered the rape kit to KBR/Halliburton security forces, after which the rape kit disappeared.  It was recovered 2 years later with crucial photographs, evidence, and notes missing.

In an apparent attempt to cover up the incident, the company then put her in a shipping container for at least 24 hrs without food or water and warned her that ‘if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.’  Finally, a sympathetic guard lent her his cell phone so that she could call her father, who in turn contacted Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) who contacted the State Department to send agents from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to remove Jones from KBR custody.

Once returning to the U.S., Mrs. Jones discovered that was just the beginning of her turmoil.  A clause in her KBR contract states that any incidents that occurs in the ‘workplace’ would warrant her claims to be heard in only in private mandatory arbitration’s – without jury, judge, public record, or transcript of the proceedings. And adding insult to injury, KBR picks the arbitrators who obviously are working for the company and not the victim. During 15 months of arbitration, and 4 years now attempting to get her day in court KBR has done everything to fight her claim, going as far as telling the Houston Chronicle in a December 14th 2007 article that ‘…one of the men accused in the rape said the woman consented to have sex with him.’ Bill Utt KBR Chairman, President and CEO also released a statement, ‘While the allegations raised by Mrs. Jones are serious, after a review of the case KBR noted inaccuracies in the accounts of the incident in question, and disputes portions of Mrs. Jones’ version of the facts.’  Appealing attempts to take them to court, KBR’s arbitration lawyer Mark De Bernardo argued that ‘the net results of arbitration is better work places.’  WOW! Really?? I beg to differ.  Since her incident, Mrs. Jones has started a foundation advocating for victims of sexual assault.  A number of women started coming forth with their stories of rape while under the umbrella of private contractors including ex KBR contractors. All of whom where forced to be silent due to private mandatory arbitration’s. Maybe if they were able to have had their day in court, this wouldn’t have been repeated or happened to Mrs. Jones.

Ex-SNL alumni and now Senator of Minnesota Al Franken decided his first amendment since winning office would be an anti-rape amendment. The amendment basically says that defense contractors, hired by the U.S, must allow their employees that get sexually assaulted or raped access to U.S courts and cannot subject them to mandatory private secretive arbitration’s or  the U.S will deny contracts. I know that Democrats and Republicans don’t always agree on all the issues, but this seemed pretty common sense across the board.  I cannot think of a reason why one would vote against women safety.  Oh wait! Here is one, if your white a