Combat Sexual Assault on Cruise Ships

Target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Goal: Enforce stricter requirements for reporting crimes that take place on cruises, including the presence of a sea marshal on every ship.

Justice can be extremely hard to attain for victims of crimes that occur aboard cruise ships, and those crimes are very often sexual in nature. More than half of the alleged on-board crimes that cruise lines reported last year were sexual assaults. What’s more, a 2013 congressional report found that one third of sexual assaults on cruise ships involved minors.

Reporting a sexual assault can be traumatizing to begin with. In the case of cruise ship assaults, this is compounded by the fact that many of these crimes are committed by cruise ship staff, and therefore even if the victim reports it to the ship’s security right away, there is an immediate conflict of interest wherein what benefits the victim hurts the cruise line. This conflict of interest is unavoidable because there is no law enforcement on board ships, so security is employed by the cruise line. Back on land, the FBI’s resources are limited when it comes to investigating these crimes because they do not have immediate access to witnesses or crime scenes. Additionally, jurisdiction can be complicated based on where the ship is registered or whether the incident took place in international waters.

Senator Richard Blumenthal has introduced legislation that would require cruise lines to have a federal officer on every ship and to give the FBI notification and any video evidence of a crime within 4 hours. Demand that these protections be put in place to help ensure justice for sexual assault victims.


Dear Majority Leader McConnell,

Victims of sexual assault on board cruise ships are often minors, and are often denied justice because of a lack of protections. Many children are taken advantage of by cruise line employees, and can only report the incident to ship security, who are also employed by the cruise line and who therefore have a clear conflict of interest — fearing the possibility of a lawsuit, cruise lines may see victims as adversaries.

Even when the cruise line does follow protocol in reporting these crimes, issues of jurisdiction can complicate matters, and the FBI has little to no access to crime scenes and witnesses, so justice for the victim is still extremely unlikely. However, steps can be taken to combat this. The standards for cruise lines must be raised by ensuring that a sea marshal is on board every ship and that any alleged crime is reported to the FBI along with any video evidence within 4 hours. I urge you to take these steps to combat sexual assault, especially against minors.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tomás Fano

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  1. It is horrendous that criminal cruise ship employees, and other criminals, are preying on passengers including children, and getting away with it. There must be action taken to stop this and to fully prosecute the perpetrators.

  2. I’m ashamed to be a man and human being at times like that.

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