“Ms. Kineston is among a number of American women who have reported that they were sexually assaulted by co-workers while working as contractors in Iraq but now find themselves in legal limbo, unable to seek justice or even significant compensation.”

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That’s a sentence from this NYT article. Here’s another excerpt:

… Many of the same legal and logistical obstacles that have impeded other types of investigations involving contractors in Iraq, like shootings involving security guards for Blackwater Worldwide, have made it difficult for the United States government to pursue charges related to sexual offenses. The military justice system does not apply to them, and the reach of other American laws on contractors working in foreign war zones remains unclear five years after the United States invasion of Iraq.

KBR and other companies, meanwhile, have required Iraq-bound employees to agree to take personnel disputes to private arbitration rather than sue the companies in American courts. The companies have repeatedly challenged arbitration claims of sexual assault or harassment brought by women who served in Iraq, raising fears among some women about going public with their claims. …

The article notes that “[c]omprehensive statistics on sexual assaults in Iraq are unavailable because no one in the government or the contracting industry is tracking them.” It also reports that “KBR, by far the largest military contractor in Iraq, says that it now has 2,383 women there, of a total work force of 54,170.” So while the proportion of women working as contractors is comparatively small, the number of sexual assaults against them may be high, but no one knows because no one is willing to track them, and companies like KBR refuses to say how many of its employees have reported crimes against them.

It should also be noted that the entire focus of the article is on sexual assaults against American women. One can only imagine how little recourse Iraqi women have if they are victims of crimes committed by U.S. contractors.

–Ann Bartow, via Josie Brown

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