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RAINN Testifies on Capitol Hill about Cruise Ship Safety

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June 19, 2008 - (Washington, DC) - Evelyn
Fortier, RAINN's Vice President of Public Policy, testified today before a U.S. Senate panel at a hearing about crime on cruise ships. In her testimony before the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, Fortier described the plight of United States citizens who are sexually assaulted on cruise ships (many of which are foreign-flagged vessels), and highlighted the lack of protections available to victims in the aftermath of an assault during a cruise voyage. Fortier also noted that sexual assault was the leading crime reported to and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the high seas over the last five years, and provided recommendations to Congress and the cruise industry on how to enhance the safety of cruise voyagers.

Other witnesses at the subcommittee hearing (entitled "Cruise Ship Safety: Examining Potential Steps For Keeping Americans Safe At Sea") included International Cruise Victims founder Kendall Carver (whose adult daughter disappeared during a cruise voyage and has never been found), Dr. Ross Klein, an academic who has studied the rate of crime on cruise ships, and a spokesperson for the cruise industry. The hearing was chaired by U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

International Cruise Victims Website

Webcast of the Hearing (along with witnesses' written statements)

Link to Evelyn Fortier's Testimony

Link to Ken Carver's Testimony

Link to Dr. Ross A. Klein's Testimony

RAINN's Top 10 Cruise Ship Safety Tips include:
  1. Being on a cruise can create a false sense of community, but in reality the typical cruise ship is like a floating city filled with strangers; treat it as you would any unfamiliar environment. Parents should not let their children roam the ship unattended.
  2. Have a plan. Know where your traveling companions are at all times and have scheduled times to check in.
  3. Even though you're on vacation don't let your guard down completely. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut.
  4. Tell security if anyone, including a fellow passenger or crew member, approaches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  5. Get to know the ship's layout and learn a well-lit route back to your stateroom.
  6. Avoid being alone or isolated with someone you don't know and trust. Use any excuse you can think of to get out of a difficult situation.
  7. Don't open your door to anyone you are not expecting, even a crew member.
  8. Don't accept drinks from people you don't know and trust. Try to buy drinks in bottles, which are harder to tamper with than cups or glasses.
  9. Always watch your drink being prepared and never leave your drink unattended.
  10. Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are alone on deck.

About RAINN

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and rainn.org) in partnership with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. The hotlines have helped more than 1.2 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.


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