Monday, December 10, 2007

And Now, An American Victim

In the heady heyday of the great tech-fueled stock market bubble of the 1990's, over-exhuberant con-men and charlatans led the credulous in a chant of "the old rules do not apply." Then, when gagillion dollar market caps for companies with no profits, sales, or even tangible products couldn't be sustained, the "old rules" kicked in, the market collapsed and the rest is history. Iraq today is something like the stock market was back in the 90's... at least the anarchic "old rules don't apply" part of it. For if you're a mercenary sub-contractor you could very well say that in Iraq the "old laws don't apply." And by "old laws" I'm talking stuff like "thou shalt do no murder" and rape being a bad thing and all.

We've heard the stories of Blackwater and other mercenary firms dealing death to the Iraqi civilian population in a rather arbitrary and haphazard manner while suffering no consequence for it. This is in part because the Bush administration, in all it's Orwellian wisdom decided that the best way to bring Democracy to Iraq would be by turning it into a place where Mercenaries could visit and just, let themselves go, secure in the knowledge that they enjoyed immunity from the laws that govern civilized nations.

Now ABC news brings us the story of an American victim of foreign contractors. And by foreign I mean foreign to Iraq, since Halliburton, the contractor in question, is decidedly not foreign to our shores. Jamie Leigh Jones, who was just 21 years old when she worked for Halliburton in Iraq, was gang raped by employees of that company, and then locked in a storage container by company officials who feared the negative consequences for the company if she told her story. It was only after a congressman's intervention (prompted by a phone call from her father) that she was rescued by "agents of the U.S. embassy" and returned to safety. Furthermore, evidence of her rape was destroyed after the Army rape kit was handed over to Halliburton security officials.

To make matters worse, Jones has no recourse under U.S. law. At best she can sue the company in civil court, however, Halliburton is claiming that the employment contract she signed requires her to settle all claims through secret, binding arbitration proceedings. Yes, you read that right, Halliburton is claiming the right to impose a contract that forces a rape victim to sign away her right to settle claims in a public courtroom. Under U.S. law it is illegal to insist that employees sign contracts stipulating that they will never vote to join a trade union, it is legal to have employees sign away their right to sue a company in a public court when they are raped by their employers.

There is so much that is sickeningly wrong about this case it's hard to know weven where to start.


Anonymous said...

Holy shit - thank you. I haven't seen this anywhere yet and will circulate it.

You can't be a woman and not have to worry about this shit, wherever you go, whoever you are with.

Patriot's Quill said...

Glad I could be of help in getting the word out. This story has reached critical mass, it seems and is about to explode.

the Yearning Heart said...

Can you sign away your tort rights?