KBR In Iraq -- Come For The Nation-Building, Stay For The Brothels

Jo Frederiksen of The Woodlands has joined the ever-growing number of women who claim they were sexually abused and harassed in Iraq under the watch of their former employer, Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root. She recently filed a lawsuit in Harris County District Court against the company.

According to the lawsuit, Frederiksen joined KBR in July 2003 and was stationed in Baghdad. While there, she claims she was "inappropriately touched, stalked, intimidated and verbally harassed" on the job as well as in her living quarters. When Frederiksen reported her concerns to KBR investigators, she claims nothing was done to stop the harassment and that many of the people she accused were promoted or moved to other work sites without ever being disciplined.

Then there are the allegations involving illegal brothels and retaliation.

While working in Iraq, Frederiksen claims she became aware of "rampant illicit criminal behavior" having to do with prostitution and human trafficking by KBR employees, according to the lawsuit. She claims that KBR employees frequented a brothel in Thailand "at the direction and encouragement" of KBR managers, and that the brothel and a nearby bar were partly owned by a KBR manager stationed in Iraq.

"The lack of oversight toward this criminal behavior and the type of behavior, prostitution and human trafficking, only lends credence and support to a morally and ethically corrupt environment -- where women are second-rate citizens provided for the pleasure of men, not valued employees that deserve the protection of KBR and the respect of their fellow workers," Frederiksen claims in the lawsuit.

When Frederiksen tried to report the sexual and verbal harassment to her male boss, he would then tell the accused, breaching the confidentiality she was entitled to and thus putting Frederiksen in an even more hostile situation, according to the lawsuit. After telling her superiors about both the abuse she was suffering and the illegal prostitution, Frederkisen was involuntarily transferred to Camp BUCCA, an Iraqi internment facility that was known as the worst place to be stationed and a dangerous site for any female worker.

Frederiksen claims KBR told her of the transfer while she was on a business trip and was not allowed to return to her camp in Baghdad to collect her personal belongings. The only way for Frederiksen to get out of the transfer was to resign, which she did. Frederiksen is now back home living in The Woodlands, according to the lawsuit.

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