Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rape and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Clicking here will sign your name:
"Defense contractors routinely force their employees to give up their legal rights to press charges if they are sexually assaulted on the job. I urge the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying in favor of this terrible practice."

Sign the petition
Dear MoveOn member,

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was working for a private contractor in Iraq when she was brutally gang-raped by coworkers.1 Four years later, Jamie is still being denied justice.

Jamie can't file U.S. criminal charges because the rape took place overseas, and a fine-print clause in her contract takes away her right to file a lawsuit in the U.S.2

Why? Because big corporations, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have worked for years to prevent workers from suing their employers in almost any circumstance, even sexual assault.3

The good news is that a bipartisan group in Congress is working to protect the rights of rape victims like Jamie. But, shockingly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fighting it.

They sent a letter to Congress saying that it would "set a dangerous precedent" to allow rape victims into court.4 The worst news? The Chamber has enough clout to tie up the bill for years, unless we fight back.

Clicking here will add your name to our petition telling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop opposing the rights of rape victims:


Then, forward this petition to your friends so we can keep it going.

Jamie Leigh Jones is not alone. Mary Beth Kineston was a truck driver with a private contractor in Iraq when she was sexually assaulted by one coworker and groped by another. When Mary Beth complained to her supervisors, she was fired. Like Jamie, Mary Beth was blocked from bringing charges in U.S. court.5

Workers who are sexually assaulted while working for defense contractors overseas typically have few options. They can't bring charges in the country where the crime was committed, and they are blocked from U.S. courts as well. Their only option is to go before a secretive, private panel where the process is heavily biased in favor of corporations.6

Jamie has teamed up with organizations like the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Public Citizen, and others to end this injustice. Congress is considering an amendment to do just that, but they've run into a massive lobbying campaign led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber says it will "set a dangerous precedent" to allow these sexual assault victims to bring their cases to court.

Clicking here will add your name to our petition telling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop opposing the rights of rape victims:


Thanks for all you do.

–Steven, Nita, Noah, Anna, and the rest of the team


1. "Testimony of Jamie Leigh Jones to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security," December 19, 2007
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85228&id=17974-10220574-n8BDU5x&t=6 [PDF] 

"Testimony of Jamie Leigh Jones to the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions," February 12, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=85227&id=17974-10220574-n8BDU5x&t=7 [video]

2. "Naked, Sore, Bruised, and Bleeding: Alleged U.S. Contractor Rape Victim Fights for her Day in Court," ABC News, October 7, 2009

3. "Chamber Research Flawed; Empirical Studies Prove That Arbitration Harms Consumers," Public Citizen, July 29, 2008

"Letter in opposition to H.R. 3010, the 'Arbitration Fairness Act,' sent to House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law," U.S. Chamber of Commerce, October 24, 2007

4. Letter Opposing the Jamie Leigh Jones Amendment, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, et al., October 6, 2009

5. "Limbo for U.S. Women Reporting Iraq Assaults," The New York Times, February 13, 2008

6. "Mandatory Arbitration Clauses: Undermining the Rights of Consumers, Employees, and Small Businesses," Fair Arbitration Now, January 1, 2007

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