GOP votes against measure to help victims of rape at govt. contractors
By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Political commentators are accusing Senate Republicans of hypocrisy -- and even outright support of rape -- after thirty of them voted against a measure to de-fund military contractors who prevent rape victims from seeking justice.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would prevent the federal government from funding contractors whose employee contracts prevent workers from pursuing allegations of rape against co-workers.
The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 30, with all 30 'no' votes being cast by Republicans. Notably, 10 Senate Republicans voted for the measure, including all four female Republican senators.
Franken was inspired to push the amendment by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was an employee of KBR -- at the time a subsidiary of Halliburton -- working in Baghdad's Green Zone when she was allegedly gang-raped by other KBR workers.
In a harrowing expose, ABC News recounted how Jones was locked in a shipping container, denied access to communication with the outside world, and told she would lose her job if she left Iraq or sought medical attention.
As RAW STORY reported last month, Jones recently won the right to sue KBR over her ordeal.
Until 2007, KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company run by Dick Cheney until he resigned as CEO to become vice-president of the United States. It was that connection to partisan politics that evidently led a majority of Senate Republicans to vote against the measure.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, called Franken's measure "a political attack directed at Halliburton."
Indeed, Franken's amendment names Halliburton and KBR directly, but also states the regulation applies to "any other contracting party."
But that has not stopped political commentators from attacking Senate Republicans for what they see as a vote for rape, and against justice for women.
At his DailyKos blog, Markos Moulitsas writes:
This is interesting. According to Republicans, a fake pimp and ho, reported to the police, was apparently so beyond the pale that they've worked to strip ACORN of all federal funding. But denying employees actual redress from gang rapes is no big deal?
Will the GOP soon introduce a new Constitution Amendment that reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting the ability of corporations to gang rape their employees"? Is support for corporate gang rape already in the GOP platform, or does it need to be added at their next meeting? Is there a huge corporate gang rape lobby that is funneling millions into GOP pockets, or did they vote this way out of personal conviction?
Laura Clawson, also writing at DailyKos, states:
To summarize the Republican position: As women, we are not "average Americans," and gang rape is not a "serious" issue. As women, no matter how powerful we become on our own merits, the Republican establishment will still be hoping for a man to come along and put us in our place.
You don't have to go very far beneath the Republican surface claims of equality-but-not-really to get to the rock-bottom sense that women just don't count, that our rights and our wellbeing are always subordinate to whatever interest of men they might conflict with. When it comes to it, even the (themselves sexist) notions of chivalry and protecting women come behind protecting the right of corporations to imprison their female employees to shield their male employees from rape charges and still get government contracts.
For her part, Jamie Leigh Jones seems pleased that Franken's amendment passed, regardless of who voted against it.
"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," she said on Tuesday outside the Senate chamber, after hugging Sen. Franken and telling him: "Way to go."