Can the Cruise Passenger Protection Act Reduce Cruise Ship Rape Crimes?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

cruise ship rapeWhile they are the most frequently occurring types of cruise ship crimes, cruise ship rape and sexual assault incidents do not garner the attention they deserve. Passengers and crew members of all ages, genders, and nationalities are suffering in the wake of these terrible (and preventable) crimes, yet, cruise lines haven’t done all that much to increase either shipboard or shoreside safety. With so many sexual crimes being reported – and the dozens of others that never come to light – we’re left wondering what exactly needs to happen to give the cruise industry the wake-up call it needs to start taking some serious action to protect travelers against sexual predators.

Enter the Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA).

The CPPA was introduced by Senator John Jay Rockefeller a few years back and is still awaiting approval in the Senate. It calls for greater transparency among cruise lines and other passenger vessels, as well as requires stricter maritime safety requirements. When – and if – the act goes into effect, cruise lines will be held to a much higher standard of safety and accountability for accidents, injuries, and crimes on the high seas. But how can the act help prevent cruise ship rape crimes? Let’s take a look.

Among the many provisions of the CPPA, the act requires that cruise lines keep an accurate log of all accidents, deaths, missing persons, and crimes that transpire on board a vessel. This provision also requires cruise lines to report these matters to the appropriate authorities, like the FBI and Coast Guard. By making cruise lines accountable for incidents that occur on their watch, including cruise ship rape crimes, the public will have a greater understanding of what really happens aboard ships and passengers will be more aware of their surroundings while on board. Plus, with an accurate account of cruise ship rape crimes, the cruise lines themselves will have no choice but to improve security measures to reduce these horrible crimes from happening in the first place.

Another way the Cruise Passenger Protection Act can help reduce cruise ship rape crimes is by establishing a special toll-free number that passengers can call if they suffer an accident or crime. Many times, sexual assault victims do not obtain the justice they deserve because their allegations aren’t properly investigated. Cruise lines often fail to fully document rape allegations or may even fail to notify FBI officials. However, with the establishment of the hotline, federal officials will have direct access to passenger complaints. Victims will not have to rely solely on cruise lines, and can quickly and easily reach federal agents to report cruise ship rape crimes directly.

The act also calls for greater preservation of evidence following an accident or crime, and oversees the training of security personnel and crew members in the prevention, detection, and investigation of crimes. This ensures that on board safety is that much greater and that crew members avoid making mistakes when collecting data after a cruise ship rape allegation. Unfortunately, because cruise lines don’t hire actual police officers or trained investigators on their ships, crime scene evidence is often overlooked or tainted. Crew members also tend to miss the signs of a possible sexual assault in the making. However, this provision can improve all shipboard security and increase passenger safety.

If it ever does pass, the CPPA can certainly reduce the frequency of cruise ship rape crimes and can also help ensure that cruise lines are held accountable for such crimes.  But until it passes, the best way for victims to obtain justice is to speak to an experienced cruise ship rape attorney for help in understanding their rights and filing a case.