Sexual harassment and assault can be horrific in any circumstances. When a victim is assaulted on a working vessel at sea, however, the nightmare may seem to have no end.
These victims of sexual misconduct are isolated from help and can be forced to live and work with their assailant under excruciating circumstances. Maritime workers who have suffered from sexual assault or harassment at sea can raise awareness and obtain relief by taking legal action against those responsible, including employers who tolerated inappropriate behavior onboard their vessels.
The Stories of Assault Are Far Too Common
Recently a Merchant Marine cadet publicly recounted her harrowing experiences at sea through Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy. Although the unwanted sexual advances and degrading gender comments she and other maritime workers endured justify complaints in their own right, it was her account of being raped by her senior officer that garnered the most outrage and attention.
Since her story went public, many other women working in the maritime industry have spoken up to report similar experiences. However, fear of retaliation kept them quiet. Now too much time has passed for some of them to take legal action.
Changes in the Industry are Occurring to Promote a Safe Workplace for Mariners
Last week the US Coast Guard issued a statement expressing its commitment to deal with the sexual assault offenders in the maritime industry. The USCG outlined specific prevention measures taken in its application process of restricting convicted sex offenders from obtaining credentials. Also, USCG reinforced its commitment to investigate all leads, including the employment of a mobile app called CGIS Tips where individuals can anonymously communicate with an agent via the app and upload images and information.
Additionally, last month a group of US Senators introduced new legislation to strengthen sexual assault and prevention, response and investigation, and accountability in the maritime industry.
Through legislation, US Coast Guard, and reporting, the goal is to create a safe and respectful climate aboard a ship where sexual assault and sexual harassment do not exist.
Help is Available for Victims of Sexual Harassment and Assault at Sea
An experienced maritime attorney could help those who have endured sexual assault or harassment pursue legal claims for relief. Prompt action could not only call attention to the problem but encourage the industry to take the steps necessary to make it an issue of the past rather than the future.
To speak with a maritime attorney who understands how to help victims of sexual assault at sea, contact the dedicated team at Latti & Anderson for a confidential consultation.