Yesterday, by a 68-30 vote, the U.S. Senate passed Senator Al Franken’s amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill (Amendment 2588) that, according to Stop Family Violence, prevents the Defense Department from using contractors that require“mandatory employment arbitration of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault claims.” Franken’s amendment was a response to cases such as that of Jamie Leigh Jones who was raped by fellow employees of Halliburton while serving in Iraq and then told she could not take her case to court but had to pursue her allegations through her employment contract’s binding arbitration clause.
According to the Houston Chronicle, among those who opposed the bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said that, “the Defense Department did not want it. He said it would invalidate due process rights of employers and employees and arbitration can be better and less expensive for employees.” . . . .
Last week U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated in regard to the unanimous passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1888, violence against women is criminal, not cultural.
The resolution calls for:
– The appointment of a special representative to lead efforts to end conflict-related sexual violence against women and children.
– The creation of a team of experts to help governments in preventing conflict-related sexual violence, strengthening civilian and military justice systems and enhancing aid to victims.
– Reports by U.N. peacekeeping missions to the Security Council about the prevalence of sexual violence.
– Consideration by the U.N. Security Council of patterns of sexual violence during the process of adopting or targeting sanctions.
– The inclusion of women’s protection advisers in peacekeeping operations where it is appropriate, as determined by the U.N. secretary-general.
– The submission of annual reports by the secretary-general on the implementation of this resolution as well as more systematic reporting on conflict-related sexual violence.