Wednesday, January 30, 2008

That Other Collateral Damage of War

For those who believe feminism is dead, I offer the following account.

Multiple men, who are US government contractors working in Iraq, allegedly gang-raped, Jamie Leigh Jones, a female co-worker. Afterwards, the company the woman was working for- Halliburton/KBR, held her under guard in a shipping container. The woman was released when, after contacting her family via a borrowed cell phone from a sympathetic guard, the State Department intervened. She was examined by Army doctors and, after it was turned over to the company, the rape kit "disappeared." (I have left out many gruesome details, but you can read them here.)

"Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.....

KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones' case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it."

Now, I'm confused. I hear all the time how women and men are now equal in society. Feminism is dead, they say. Time to quit with the gender card. Identity politics is so divisive and unnecessary. See, I'm confused because despite feminism's alleged death by irrelevancy, a group of men allegedly gang-raped Jamie Leigh Jones and nothing can or has been done to the men. Not even a trial to determine if Jones is telling the truth. (And yes, I think she is).

In a world where feminism was no longer needed, men and groups of men would not rape women (or men).

In a world where feminism was no longer needed, men accused of rape would be the ones held in guarded cells.

In a world where feminism was no longer needed, a woman who had been raped by her male co-workers would not be held in a cell with male co-workers guarding her escape.

In a world where feminism was no longer needed, rape kits would not "disappear."

In a world where feminism was no longer needed, the rape of women would not be an acceptable collateral damage of war.

In a world where feminism was no longer needed, the rape of a woman would be cause for media outcry (or at least coverage).

I share the feelings of this blogger, who writes,

"I found myself reeling, reading all of this. I read three major newspapers every single day. I watch the news every night at 10. I pay attention to the blogosphere and to the internet in general. I am on numerous feminist and women’s e-mail loops as well, yet until now – mostly by happenstance, because I don’t normally click on incoming links – I had not heard of this atrocity."

We regularly read about the deaths of our soldiers. And yes, the death of a soldier is a travesty. But so is the rape of another human being, perhaps a citizen or perhaps another soldier. If not for feminist media, where else do we hear about that "other" collateral damage of war?

Call me a leftist gender warrior, but I say feminism is alive and well.

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