Cruise Ship Sexual Assault & Rape
Changing a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
by Kimberly Dean Edwards
It isn’t everyday a person can go on a cruise to some Islands in the sea, but for my 40th Birthday that is exactly what my Husband and I did. What was suppose to be a magical time turned into a nightmare in the blink of an eye. After being brutally raped in 1986 and then being sexually assaulted in the Ladies Restroom on that cruise, I decided I had to stand up and fight being that my other choice was to crawl in a corner and sink into a deep depression as I had done in 1986.
I was told by many of my friends and family that I could not take on The Cruise Industry, but I had to get Justice and with the laws regarding crimes committed on the High Seas this would be no easy task. The first year and a half I was on my own, with the exception of having the best Maritime Law Firm on my side, Lipcon, Margulies and Alsina PA. In the spring of 2006 I found the ICV and joined other cruise victims/survivors and their families to bring awareness to the American Public about when something goes wrong on a cruise you are virtually in a lawless floating city.
Throughout the next year plus, this organization went before Congress to try and bring about necessary changes to an otherwise unregulated travel business. Unlike the Airlines and other means of transportation, The Cruise Industry had far fewer regulations safe guarding American Passengers and this has to change. After much media attention on several “High Profile” cases, The Cruise Industry decided to meet with a few of us and listen to our stories, including mine, at a Victim’s /Survivor’s Symposium held by The Family Assistance Foundation and Aviem International, Inc. in May of 2007. This would be the beginning of the healing process for me and doors would open that have allowed me to not only find justice for what happened to me on that cruise, but also has given me the opportunity to work with The Cruise Industry as a whole, to help make cruises safer for all passengers.
Since May of 2007, I have worked with Gary Bald, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Security for RCCL, Lynn White, also a Senior Vice President and Head of Risk Management for RCCL, Bill Serra, Manager for Guest Care for RCCL, Vicky Rey, a Vice President for Carnival Cruise Lines and the Head of Carnival’s Care Team, Terry Dale, President of CLIA (Cruise Line International Association), along with many others. Together we have formed The Survivor’s Working Group, which is a combination of cruise victims/survivors and members of The Cruise Industry and CLIA that have been assembled to work towards safer cruises and to help other families from hopefully ever having to go through what we have. It has always been my goal to make sure that what happened to me on that cruise in October of 2004, does not go in vein. I want all passengers to have a safe voyage and that dream vacation that I never got. I also intend to continue to work to see that when tragedy does strike, or a crime is committed against a passenger, that passenger/passengers and/or their family will be treated with the care, respect and dignity they deserve.
Throughout my 3 year quest for justice my life didn’t stop, I lost my last Grandparent, I went to the Gulf Coast to help the Victims of Hurricane Katrina, I lost 2 very close friends, my 17 year old son lost 2 friends in 2 separate car accidents within 6 days of each other and his favorite teacher, my husband was in 2 sever car accidents, my 17 year old son broke his neck in a car accident while sitting at a red light and we lost both our beloved Labrador Retrievers. I say these things not looking for pity but rather to acknowledge the strength of the Human Spirit and to remind people that you can survive anything and you can make a difference in this world. Even if that means standing up to a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry. When your intentions are pure in nature anyone can move mountains if they just try their very best and never let the anger or pain of a situation keep them from making it better for the next person.
Our firm salutes Kimberly Edwards in this effort.
Cruise crime victim gains political support for fight
By Sarah K. Winn