Last night, Jon Stewart called out the 30 Senate Republicans who voted against Al Franken's amendment to bar the government from contracting with companies that force their employees to agree not to sue if they get raped on the job.
On the surface, the amendment, attached to a defense appropriations bill, may seem a little complicated. It seems less so when you learn why it's necessary. Former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones says she was drugged by her coworkers and gang-raped so brutally that she awoke "with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn‚ which would later require reconstructive surgery." She was then locked in a shipping container, presumably to keep her from testifying, and her rape kit and other evidence went mysteriously "missing." When she tried to sue, she was informed that her contract required her to address the allegations in arbitration instead, a process which FishbowlLA's Pandora Young says "overwhelmingly favors the employers." The Guardian also spoke with two other women whose claims of assault or harassment had been ignored by Halliburton/KBR.
Not dealing with companies that actively keep rape victims from justice seems, Stewart says, like a "slam dunk." But not for Sen. Jeff Sessions. He says,
Instead of eliminating arbitration, we should probably be looking for ways to utilize mediation and arbitration more in these kind of disputes.
Makes sense — after all, it's really important for rape victims and the companies that hold them in locked shipping containers while disposing of evidence come to an amicable settlement in a friendly, non-litigious atmosphere. Bonus points if that atmosphere is controlled by the company, as opposed to an impartial court. Because since outsourcing the Iraq war to Halliburton worked so well, we might as well outsource the settlement of rape claims to them too.
Sessions also calls Franken's bill "a political amendment [...] representing a sort of political attack directed at Halliburton." As Stewart points out, this accusation rings a bit hollow, especially since four of the Senators who voted against Franken's bill recently spoke out in favor of an amendment to withdraw government funding from Acorn. Of that amendment, Sen. Richard Shelby said "we've got to get corruption out of any organization that's taking taxpayers' money" — apparently that applies only if those organizations are, you know, liberal. But the real money quote comes from Stewart: "If to protect Halliburton, you have to side against rape victims, you might want to rethink your allegiances."