Friday, April 11, 2008

U.S. fails to move on Iraq sexual assault complaints

American women sexually assaulted by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan not getting justice or even a response

Go to McClatchy Newspapers original
WASHINGTON — While working in Iraq as a ''morale coordinator'' for a U.S. government contractor, a Tampa woman says, she was raped by a drunken colleague who secured a key to her apartment from an unlocked storage box.

That was in December 2005, and her attorney said he's unaware of any criminal charges in the case.

The U.S. Justice Department has the authority to prosecute, but she and at least three other women who say they were assaulted complain of being trapped in legal limbo between a military system that doesn't oversee the private contractors and a justice system that appears unwilling to do so.

''American women are vulnerable not only to assault, but to achieving justice,'' said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who since December has been pressing the Bush administration for answers over the treatment of U.S. citizens sexually assaulted by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He got a few Wednesday. Following tearful testimony at a Senate hearing from two other women who reported being raped while on the job in Iraq, the Defense and Justice departments acknowledged that though more than two dozen U.S. civilians working in the war zone have complained of sexual assaults, no one has yet been tried for a crime.


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