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30 Republican Senators Vote to Not Investigate or Prosecute Rape

By       (Page 1 of 3 pages)   4 comments
Message Janet Parker

All human persons have the right to not be violated sexually. Rape is often called the ultimate violation of self, a crime of absolute contempt for personal integrity which leaves victims with emotional scars for life. Rape is a crime under international human rights law.   Yet many in Congress still believe that rape is acceptable and that rape victims do not have the legal right to an investigation of their rape allegation and conviction of their rapist. Just note the statement of   Kansas Rep. Pete DeGraaf: Being impregnated during a rape is just like getting a flat tire - in other words women must be prepared every day of their life to be potentially sexually assaulted. [i]   This immunity for sexual assault has been extended by the recent 2001 Supreme Court decision -- Circuit City v. Adams where the Supreme Court expanded the reach of employees who are required to address disputes through arbitration rather than in court. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stood up for rape victims and asked for the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine the effects on rape victims civil rights under the new Circuit City vs Adams decision. [ Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams,. 532 U.S. 105 (2001)   opinion.] The Court's decision in Circuit City undermines the effective enforcement of civil rights laws, and by extending the force of the arbitration act, the Court made employment contract arbitration provisions enforceable, thus enabling employers to strip employees of their civil rights by including arbitration clauses in employment contracts.   This means that rape victims are not allowed to demand an investigation and a prosecution of their rapist.   This Supreme Court decision will also affect employees of  other government contractors not just in the Defense Department -- it will affect rape victim rights in private prisons who contract with the federal government, private psychiatric hospitals and even private medical clinics. 

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and threatened with losing her job. She was prevented from phoning local police by being trapped in a locked storage container without access to a phone. Unable to call the police or go to a private physician, Ms. Jones was forced to submit to a forensic exam by a KBR employed doctor who then did not turn over the rape kit evidence to the police but instead handed the rape kit to KBR security personnel.  Crucial evidence in the rape kit including the KBR doctors' original examination notes mysteriously disappeared before the actual police got possession of it.  KBR employees were alleged to have violated the chain of evidence in a criminal assault case. In addition, Jamie Leigh Jones was detained for long enough for KBR to create a plausible story against her and to collaborate testimony between the witnesses and perpetrators prior to any local police interrogation.  The delay in bringing the criminal sexual assault to the notice of police authorities and KBR employees asserting total control over the chain of evidence on the rape kit, was the reason Ms. Jones did not have a strong criminal case of rape. Wasn't this criminal obstruction of justice in a sexual assault case? Jones was  prevented from bringing charges in civil court against KBR for personal injury damages and for their obstruction of justice in her rape case, because her employment contract stipulated that work place injuries could only be handled by mandated private binding arbitration.

What about the human rights of a female prison guard working in a private prison under federal contract?   If she is raped at work, does the private prison have the right to hold her in a cell for a day while they tamper with witnesses, destroy evidence and then force her to have her forensic rape exam performed by a prison employed physician?   This is exactly what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones when she was raped in Iraq by employees of US defense contractor KBR.   Employees in private prisons are   also asked to sign mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts with their employers just like Jamie Leigh Jones.   What about the constitutional rights of persons working in social services under a governmental contractor?   Women working in direct contact with former rapists, drug dealers, and violent offenders are at particular risk of sexual assault.   If they are raped while on the job, will a mandatory arbitration clause in their employment contract make it legal for their employer to use any means possible to prevent them from reporting the rape to proper authorities and demanding a sexual assault investigation?   What about female employees in privately run but publicly funded psychiatric facilities?   Aren't they at special risk of work place violence?   Will arbitration clauses in their employment contracts nullify their human rights or civil rights to justice?

The Constitution gives everybody the right to due process of law and victims of rape, battery and domestic violence deserve their day in court.  US governmental contractors have been putting fine print in their contracts so that victims of sexual assault can be denied their day in court and forced to arbitrate their sexual assault.   But Congress and the Supreme Court are supposed to uphold the principles of the US Constitution.  

Apparently 30 elected federal officials in the US Congress do not even acknowledge that one out of every 6 women in the United States suffers a sexual assault at some time in their life.   Add to that every mother or father of a rape victim, every husband, wife or lover, every friend or caring colleague that is a lot of people victimized by the trauma because everyone close to a rape victim is affected by this crime.   Sexual assault is considered one of the egregious violations a person can suffer, and certainly is a trauma that no victim/survivor will ever forget.   Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted. There are 213,000 sexual assaults each year. 60% of all sexual assaults are never reported to the police and only one in 16 rapists will ever spend a day in jail. (   statistics)

So in 10/1/2009 Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) put an amendment on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 in order to:

"To prohibit the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it "a political attack directed at Halliburton."    But there was bipartisan support of the Franken Amendment and the 111th Congress - 1st Session passed the Franken Amendment S.Amdt. 2588 to H.R. 3326 was added to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010. It was passed by a 68-30 vote.  The amendment earned the support of 10 Republican senators including that of newly-minted Florida Sen. George LeMieux.    On 12/19/2009 it became Public Law No: 111-118 [Text, PDF]

See how your own elected representatives voted on Public Law 111-118:

Grouped By Vote Position 

NAYs ---30

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)

Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)

Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

YEAs ---68

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)

Bennett (R-UT)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)

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