The Anti-Rape Amendment

I have thought long and hard about Al Franken’s Anti-Rape Amendment.  When 30 senators voted against the amendment I thought to myself that there had to be an acceptable reason why. I wanted to do my research before simply reacting to this seemingly incomprehensible choice on the part of these senators.  Was there something in the language of the amendment that may be objectionable or unfair?  Was there some detail we all may have missed?

Let’s look at the Anti-Rape Amendment:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.

Seems pretty fair right? It’s not a far stretch to hold any company accountable if they should expect to receive billions of our tax dollars. I heard one opposing Senator remark how this unfairly singles out Haliburton? Singles out yes. Unfairly no. Not in light of how they treated  the gang rape of one of their employees, Jamie Leigh Jones.  We don’t want to do business, much less protect any business that falsely imprisons and threatens termination to an employee that was just gang raped while working on their jobsite.  These Senators are condoning this behavior and providing no protection for us, the people they apparently don’t represent anymore.

Recently Senator David Vitter was confronted by one of his constituents, a survivor of rape, on why he chose to inexplicably oppose this piece of legislation.

First Vitter told the woman how supportive he was of rape cases getting prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.”  Then he assumed the woman was simply an Obama supporter as he tried to deflect her question into an attack on Obama.  But of course the woman told him simply, “But i’m not asking Obama.  I’m asking you.”  As she should have considering Senator Vitter is her representative in government.  Then towards the end, Vitter simply walks away. I personally have become a little bit burned out on Town Hall Meeting dramatics of late, but in this case I can see why the woman got upset by his behavior.

He didn’t have an explanation. He didn’t want to answer her question. So he did the most self-serving thing a politician can do. Walk away.

When you walk away from a constituent who was calmly asking you a question that pretty much indicates that you are more worried about looking bad politically in front of a video camera than any concern for your responsibility as an elected Senator.

We are still waiting for an real explanation for why these representatives of ours voted to continue to allow our government to do business with companies that force their employees to sign away their rights IF they are raped and/or assaulted as their employees. 

So imagine just for a second, that you were gang raped by your coworkers, then you are imprisoned in a shipping container.  Denied food, water, or medical treatment.  You are only released after slipping a message to your local Senator.  Then you are threatened with termination by your boss if you decide to receive medical treatment afterwards.  On top of all of this, your assailants are never taken to justice and you have no recourse whatsoever.  Oh, and when someone tries to change the law to make sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else, 30 Senators vote it down because it doesn’t give Haliburton a fair shake.

These representatives were playing politics when they should have done the right thing.  Now the next time an employee of a government contractor is raped and assaulted and is given no recourse, we’ll remember who walked away. 

Contact Senator David Vitter