Horror On The High Seas - Jurisdictional Disputes Leave Foreign Crew Members In No Man's Land

A number of articles published this weekend reveal the plight of young women sexually assaulted on foreign flagged cruise ships and cargo vessels.

Yesterday, in Cruise Rape - Is Royal Caribbean Up To Its Old Tricks?, we reported that a South African crew member claims that another crew member raped her on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  The Captain of the cruise ship reportedly dismissed the rape as a "he said, she said" incident, and then sent her back to her home country.  If a U.S. crew member or passenger is victimized, the cruise line claims that it reports the crime to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.  The FBI has jurisdiction over such incidents.  But when a "foreign" crew member is raped, the case can fall into a no man's land.

Most Royal Caribbean cruise ships are flagged in the Bahamas.  Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia.  No one from these countries has any interest in or inclination of conducting a criminal investigation into the rape of a woman from South Africa.  And the country of South Africa has no jurisdiction to board a Bahamian flagged vessel operated by a Liberian corporation.       

Today, the Times Live newspaper in South Africa reports that a 19 year old cadet on the Safmarine Kariba cargo vessel was raped by a senior officer.  Ms. Akhona Geveza was completing her Akhona Geveza - Safmarine Kariba - Sexual Assaultcadetship to become a navigational officer.  After she reported being raped, her lifeless body was found floating in the water off the coast of Croatia.  It is unknown whether someone pushed her overboard or she committed suicide.

The terrible ordeal is explained in two articles "Teen's Horror on the High Seas" and "Legal Tangle Over Teen's Death at Sea."  The newspaper mentions a number of incidents of sexual assault and harassment of crew members.

The articles explain that what makes the case of Ms. Geveza difficult to investigate is that the ship is registered in Britain, Ms. Geveza is South African, the vessel was in Croatian waters, and the officer who allegedly committed the crime is Ukrainian. 

It has been our experience when we represent young women from outside the U.S., that the flag states (Bahamas, Bermuda, Liberia, and Panama) never conduct a criminal investigtion.  

A female cadets interviewed in one of the articles is quoted as saying: "We were told that the sea is no man's land and that what happens at sea, stays at sea . . . " 

 

Credits:

Photograph             Akhona Geveza - FaceBook

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
CAROLANN BOARDMAB - July 19, 2010 9:28 AM

I HAVE ALWAYS TOLD PEOPLE TO TAKE CARE WHEN YOU CRUISE
TOD AY.
MY PARNETS LOVED CRUISEING, FROM 1956 TO 1965, WE WENT SOMEWHERE EVERY SUMMER. WE WENT TO HAWII THE YEAR AFTER SHE BECAME A PART OF THE UNION.
IN 1961, WE WENT TO AUST. BY WAY OF HAWII AND THE NEW ZEALAND.HONG KONG, AND JAPAN.

I THINK THAT ITS THE QULITAL OF THE PERSONAL INVOLED. WHEN I WAS A CHILD, THOUSE SHIPS WERE MY PERSONAL PLAY PLACES. I MIGHT NOT SEE MY FOLKS, FROM MORNING TO NIGHT. AND THIS WAS BEFORE THEY PUT PIZZA AND HAMBGER PLACES ON THE SHIPS. AT DINNER, I WOULD GO BACK TO MY CABIN WASH, AND PUT ON A DRESS. SOMETIMES I WOULD EAT WITH WITH THEM, OTHERS NOT. I COULD ORDER ANYTHING I WANTED. I HAD CAVIAR FOR THE FIRST TIME.
THE STEWARDS ALWAYS TREATED ME WELL.
BUT WE ALMOST ALWAYS TRAVELED BY P & O AND BY BRITISH OR AMERCIAN SHIPS. I WENT ON A "STAR TREK" CRUSE SOME 30 YEARS LATER AND IT WAS SO DIFFERENT. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE CARABIAN CURISES. WOULDN'T WANT A FRIEND TO GO ON ONE. ALWAYS FELT WATCHED. MEN CAME INTO MY CABIN WITHOUT PERMISSION. YOURS, CAROL BOARDMAN horsemaster111@yahoo.com

Sailor - July 19, 2010 4:59 PM

I'm a navigation officer at sea. I too was subjected to the constant unwanted and unwelcome sexuall advances and comentary from my seniors. I got tired of it eventually and i challenged my perpetrator. Unfortunatley because he also happened to be my captain, he victimised me so horribly that i felt like quiting and going home. But i work for a company that has a zero tolerance for such behavior, and they addressed the matter. Me and him are unfortuntley on speaking terms and I dread the day that i should ever sail with him again, but I'm glad i stood up to him.
But of these girls are very young with no one to turn to. They feel abandoned by their training managers and the telephone calls to home are a bit too costly for a cadet's salary.

I've known Akhona and she was anything but suicidal, may her soul rest in peace.

Thandeka - July 21, 2010 6:33 AM

It is very tragic that she had to die at such a young age, she looks like a youngster who was going far with her life. May she rest in peace and we hope the answers will be found as to what happened.

memyself - July 31, 2010 4:03 PM

Shame she is no longer with us. May her soul rest in peace.

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