A South African beauty therapist who was allegedly raped while working on a cruise liner in the Caribbean has engaged a US law firm to fight her case.
Port Elizabeth-born Taryn, 30, who requested that her surname not be used, said she was forced to leave the industry after her ordeal aboard the liner owned by Royal Caribbean International.
She now works for an airline in the United Arab Emirates.
This week she hired Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkelman, which specialises in maritime law and cases involving passengers and crew injured on ships worldwide.
Taryn said she was raped by a fellow South African, a fitness instructor, and sent home after reporting the incident.
“I believe they sent me home to hide the case and protect their reputation – they didn’t care about my wellbeing.
“The easy part was to get over the physical rape, the hard part was, and still is, trying to convince myself that I did the right thing by reporting the incident, despite being made to feel like I was in the wrong, despite still feeling like no justice was done and despite having no one but my family and friends to support me emotionally.”
Taryn said after she reported the matter, the cruise captain told her: “There are two stories, his and yours, but his sounds more believable, because you had been drinking.”
She said she was advised to drop the matter or face an FBI investigation into the incident since the alleged rape had taken place on a US-registered vessel. After she decided to drop the matter, “I was given two hours to pack my bags and say goodbye.”
Speaking from Miami, Florida, lawyer Charles Lipcon said he had handled several cases involving South Africans.
“Some crew members, especially the captains and other senior officials, have been blackmailing female cadets and crew members to have sex with them or face a miserable life at sea.”