HOUSTON — Four women who used to work for KBR, formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, have filed suit against KBR and Halliburton, alleging they were sexually harassed and, in two cases, raped while on the job in Iraq, the Houston Chronicle reported on June 30. KBR is a former subsidiary of Halliburton, which is the prime beneficiary of billions of tax dollars as a result of the Iraq war. Vice President Dick Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton.

Attorneys for the complainants said their clients were exposed to a “sexually charged atmosphere where women were repeatedly demeaned and solicited for sex despite reporting harassment to supervisors.” The women have been forced to turn to civil courts since they cannot determine whether federal authorities are proceeding with criminal prosecutions.

Experts have noted that many crimes are not being prosecuted against civilian war contractors because it has not been determined which judicial system applies to U.S. civilians working in a war zone in an occupied country.

The alleged sex crimes were committed in 2004 and 2005. One woman from Conroe, a suburb of Houston, states she needed surgery to repair torn muscles and ruptured breast implants after she was drugged and raped by drunken male co-workers in Baghdad in 2005.

The lawsuit alleges a work environment that was permissive towards males, excused their abusive behavior and may have encouraged it.