In the past, women who have been sexually assaulted while on a cruise were not provided virtually any medical treatment or forensic services while on board the ship.
Recently more attention has been focused on sexual assault and other crimes committed against women on cruise ships. Various victims advocacy groups have contended that cruise ship crimes are a significant problem and have pushed Congress for better laws governing these types of crimes.
Congress recently enacted the “Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.” This act requires the cruise ships to provide women with access to national sexual assault hotlines if they are claiming that they have been the victim of a sexual assault. These women would also be entitled to a sexual assault forensic exam and medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Cruise ships will also be required to install peep holes and security latches on cabin doors. The cruise lines will also be required to report these incidents to the FBI.
The practical effect of this legislation will be to help reduce the chances that a victim of sexual assault will contract a disease from the incident and increase the chance that the perpetrator will be apprehended. Previously, when a women claimed she was assaulted, the cruise ships did not have any kits available to preserve the forensic evidence and this made it much more difficult for allegations of assault to be proved.
The “Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act” is a welcome change. Cruise ships, instead of being primarily concerned with avoiding civil liability to the victims of assault, must now address their medical needs and take reasonable steps to preserve the evidence and report the crime.
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