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Sexual Assaults Onboard Cruise Ships

May 16, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

An assault or rape on a cruise ship can turn what is meant to be a relaxing vacation at sea into a harsh reminder that in reality, a cruise ship is a floating city full of strangers with violent propensities. CNN reported that sexual and physical assaults were the leading crimes committed aboard cruise ships in recent years according to the FBI. The assailants can be fellow passengers or crew members.

A Florida cruise ship lawyer pointed out that vacationers have the mistaken belief that a cruise ship is paradise where nothing bad can happen. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, approximately 12 million people go on cruises every year. It is difficult to gauge the number of cruise ship crimes because companies do not release crime statistics to the public. Cruise lines, however, have to report serious incidents involving American passengers to the FBI and to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Industry experts believe that the actual number of sexual assaults on cruise ships is likely higher than reported. This may be attributed in part to the fact that victims are often afraid to come forward and report the attack because their attacker is still aboard the ship in close proximity. With ship doctors paid by the cruise line, experts question whether the ship doctor can be impartial during a rape examination.

Civil compensation for victims is complicated because many assaults occur in foreign waters. Victims need a personal injury attorney experienced in maritime law issues.

Did you suffer an assault aboard a cruise ship?