One of the many concerns you may have before taking your cruise, especially if you are a woman traveling alone, is whether or not rape will be a risk that you should look out for. Certainly, sexual assault can take place anywhere, on land or at sea. However, due to the close confinement that a cruise ship requires, the prevalence of alcohol and party atmosphere, the lowered awareness of passengers, it seems that cruise ship rape is an occurrence that happens much more often than uninformed passengers would expect.
As the firm with probably the most experience handling cases for victims of cruise ship sexual assault and rape, we know just how important it is for all passengers to understand the unfortunate reality of the situation. Every year, many rapes that happen aboard cruise ships go unreported, and that should not be the case. Those who have committed crimes should be brought to justice, so that the survivor can have closure, and the perpetrator is prevented from performing the same act again.
Typically, when we speak about cruise ship rape, the cases involve a single attacker. However, a story out of Sweden earlier this year made us ask the question: Is gang rape at sea something else we should be focusing on?
Two Gang Rape Case Studies
The case in Sweden involved the gang rape of a high school girl by a group of 18 and 19 year old boys. The attack took place on a special party cruise for high school kids only that went from Sweden to Finland and back.
In this situation, one could argue that the attackers were young and that their pack mentality made the crime all the more possible. However, our lawyers have handled several gang rape cases aboard cruise ships and find a striking theme among the incidents:
“In many cases of rape and gang rape aboard cruise ships, the victims were provided alcohol by either their attackers or someone working with their attackers,” comments one of the most experienced maritime attorneys dealing with cruise rape cases, Jason Margulies. “In many instances, victims have reported that they only had one drink – or less than one drink – but completely blacked out only to come to while they were being raped. This strongly suggests that the drinks these victims were provided were drugged.”
How Can You Stay Safe?
First, it is of the utmost importance that you monitor how much you are drinking. Once you’ve had too many drinks, there’s a chance that you may make decisions you later regret. So, be mindful of yourself and those around you. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t have fun. We’re just saying that your fun needs to have a drink limit.
Second, you must be completely aware of where your drinks are coming from and the entire chain of custody of that drink before you consume it. Did another passenger, whom you just met, bring you a drink? Are you drinking something coming from a bottle in a passenger’s cabin that you met earlier that evening? Did you see your bartender pour your drink and hand it to you, or the bar waiter, before it was brought to you? Jason Margulies reminds us, “Be very careful who you trust to serve you alcohol aboard a ship – because it may not only be passengers who are in on the drugging of drinks!”
Third, parents need to make sure that their teenage children are aware of these risks. “Often times aboard cruise ships, teenagers who may not be able to obtain alcohol at the ship’s bars or nightclubs, may go to a passenger’s cabin who promises them that they have alcohol there. That is a common start to the story we hear from children who are raped in passenger cabins aboard ships,” Margulies says.
Additionally, we would expect the cruise lines in question to know when a customer has had too much to drink and refuse service if the customer seems dangerously intoxicated. Further, we would hope that greater security would be in place to ensure that minors to do not have access to alcohol and that “zombie” passengers who are clearly drugged are not allowed to be led or carried through common areas of the ship without ship security stopping them and making sure that they are with somebody that they know well – as opposed to someone they had just met earlier that day.
Fourth, especially if you are a woman, make sure that you and your friends keep an eye out for each other. Stick together until everyone is safely back in their cabins. Rapists are not likely to take on an entire group of women. One woman may be easy to bring into a secluded area of the ship or to a cabin, but five are not. So keep yourself and your friends out of harm’s way, by staying together. Safety in numbers is always a good rule to go by.
Fifth, know who you are spending time with, and know when they have crossed the line. It’s likely that a potential attacker will make smaller moves towards assault before the assault or rape takes place. As soon as you feel uncomfortable, it’s time to say goodbye.
We Are Here to Help
Ultimately, the aware and informed passenger has no reason to be overly fearful of rape while you are on your cruise. With a few simple, preventative measures, you can keep yourself and your friends safe, making memories that will last a lifetime…for all the right reasons.
Lastly, if you are in the unfortunate situation of having been sexually assaulted and feel that you may have been drugged – it is imperative that you go immediately to the ship’s medical center and report the crime and demand that a rape kit (including fluid and blood samples) be performed. Time is of the essence because traces of many of the “date rape drugs” leave the body very quickly after their potency wears off.
Remember, should you ever be the victim of a sexual assault or rape aboard your cruise, you do not have to suffer in silence. A cruise ship rape lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can help. Feel free to contact us to set up a consultation.