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Preventing Assaults on Cruise Ships

Posted on July 19, 2010

New legislation will, for the first time, require the cruise industry to report crimes that occur in international waters, according to an article in USA Today. The nation’s largest anti-sexual assault group, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), has argued for some time now that crime on-board cruise ships is a bigger problem than has been reported.

The group has lobbied, and Congress has passed, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. It requires that an alleged sexual assault victim be given the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hot-line as well as a rape exam and medications to prevent sexually transmitted disease. Ships will be required to install peep holes on cabin doors and will be required to report all crimes to the FBI. A trained forensic medical examiner must be on-board each ship who can handle forensic evidence.

This will make reporting a sexual assault on-board a cruise ship much easier that it’s been in the past. Too often vacationers let their guard down on cruise ships. When an assault occurs, the cruise line has no interest in implicating itself and often fails to collect basic evidence from the victim. Without evidence, and with a perpetrator who is ferried off the ship, there is little chance of convicting a rapist or violent criminal.

Still unresolved is the issue of the complexities from different countries that are involved in international cruises. The ship may be registered in one country, while the alleged perpetrator is a citizen of another.

The hot-line number is 800-656-HOPE. Online one can contact the group through online.rainn.org. The bill was promoted by Rep. Doris Matsui and Sen. John Kerry.