People are thrilled when going on a vacation especially a cruise and rarely think of taking precautions for their safety because they think they are safe.
After all you paid a significant amount of money for your vacation, are traveling aboard what you consider a reputable company and are in a secure area. Right?
Sexual abuse on cruise ships probably doesn’t even factor in your decision before booking that luxurious or fun cruise and it really should.
Subconsciously you likely assume that the employees of the cruise ship have undergone background investigations and therefore feel safe around the cruise ship employees.
But just how safe are you!
Sex abuse on Cruise Ships and numerous other crimes aboard the floating vessels occurs more frequently than you might think and less frequently than you know about since very few cases are prosecuted.
A lot of the sexual abuse on cruise ships is perpetuated by cruise ship employees. Not all, but a lot.
Even more frightening is that due to the confusing laws at sea, many times the cruise companies try to use laws to their advantage so that they do not have to report the crimes at all and damage the carefully crafted public image as a fun safe vacation they have cultivated.
When you are aboard a cruise ship and out in the water, the laws are governed by Maritime Law. Cruise ships aren’t even required to report crime statistics to any governing body, and the question of exactly who is supposed to investigate when a crime does occur is extremely confusing.
The two cruise companies that seem to come up most frequently in sex abuse cases are the Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean even apparently barred a woman from taking a future cruise when she complained about a crew members behavior on a past cruise.
Just last week a 15 year old girl says she was raped about the Carnival Sensation.
A man, Casey Dickerson was aboard the vessel with his wife and allegedly complained about noise so they were given another room but still had access to the first cabin. Dickerson allegedly hosted a party in that unused cabin with 4 underage men and the girl who said she was raped and her friend.
The girl in question went to the room voluntarily with one of the younger boys and once inside, one girl was locked in a bathroom and other other was raped repeatedly.
The key difference with this case is that it appears the young girl would not sign away her rights which is what the cruise ship usually have you do by signing confidentiality agreements and therefore the public does not know even how much abuse occurs on the ships.
Fortunately this young girl and her parents would not sign.
But she is not the only one that has been attacked nor will she be the last.
The Miami Herald reports a woman was raped by a crewman on January 1st aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas ship. She asked a crewman for a towel and instead of showing her where the towels were, he led her to an area where he raped her.
A 17 year girl was aboard the Carnival Sensation with her parents when she was subjected to an investigation that looks like it was the cover for a sexual assault.
The Huffington Post reports that at least 3 Carnival Cruise ship employees showed up in girl’s cabin investigating whether a small bag of marijuana was hers.
Even though she admitted that the baggie was ultimately hers, she was not informed that she could have her mother present during the investigation. She was forced to remove her underwear and lift her dress and was then forced her into the restroom and watched her while she urinated.
She was then told to remove a tampon and her “genital cavity was inspected visually” by a female Carnival employee, with the two male employees were present to watch.
Although Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines are mentioned most, horrific assaults happen on many other cruise lines.
Paul Trotter worked on Cunard Cruise Lines about the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria. He admitted to assaulting 13 boys while he was an employee in the children play zone area.
Cruise Law News states, “the FBI has a terrible record investigating cruise ship rapes. 95% of FBI investigations go nowhere which means that up to 5% aof cruise ship crimes are prosecuted by the federal government.
Jim Walker, an attorney that specializes in Maritime Law noted that Royal Caribbean, for example, had 66 cases of alleged sexual assault between 2003 and 2005, without a single one prosecuted successfully. Based on the way the records were presented, he surmised there were likely more cases.
Sobering statistics and that does not even factor in the number of women and children assaulted that have not reported an assault even though they or their children were assaulted.
Once a ship is 24 miles from any coastline, it’s on the high seas or international waters and Maritime Law kicks in.
If you are a victim of a rape or a violent physical assault and battery during a cruise, that means that there is over a 95% likelihood that your assailant will not be arrested or prosecuted.
Remember there no police officers on the ship so if you are a victim and are trying to report a crime, you will have to go through the security department on the cruise ship.
It seems that they might be more interested in protecting their own interest and image rather then helping victims obtain justice.
The International Cruise Victims Organization has suggested that a law be passed requiring independent law enforcement officers aboard cruise ships, to investigate crimes and hold the bad guys accountable. The cruise lines have fought this vigorously.
If after reading this, you still decide that you want to go on a cruise, it is probably best to be armed with information about what do in the increasingly likelihood that you or your children are attacked.
Jim Walker’s site provides a number of steps to take if you are assaulted aboard cruise ship.
Also read through the 6 Important Cruise Safety Tips for Women to help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of sexual abuse on cruise ships.