As part of its special investigation into the problem of crime on cruise ships, "Crimes Onboard – The Dark Side of Cruising," NBC Bay Area interviewed Congresswomen Doris Matsui (D-CA) who was instrumental in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act.
Congresswoman Matsui’s constituent (and our client) Laurie Dishman called upon her after Ms. Dishman was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in February 2006. Congresswoman convened a hearing regarding the crime. Ms. Dishman testified before Congress in 2005 regarding her ordeal. She traveled to Washington D.C. over 30 times to lobby for the passage of a cruise crime bill to protect women and children from sexual assaults on cruise ships.
Congresswoman Matsui discusses the new safety law which became effective this year. She points out correctly that one of the purposes of the new law was to educate the public regarding the startling number of sexual assaults and other crimes which occur on cruise ships each year. However, after the bill was voted into law, the final version of the law was watered down. The FBI and Coast Guard now reveal only the number of closed criminal cases on cruise ships as opposed to the number of total crimes actually occurring each year.
The public is warned of only a fraction of the real number of cruise crimes.
The difference is between 16 closed cases as opposed to the actual number – "in the hundreds."
The democratic process is a slow one. The cruise industry vigorously fought against the new cruise law for years, only to cave in at the end when passage of the law was likely. Now it turns out that some limiting language was inserted into the bill at the end of the day which conceals the majority of the crimes which occur each year on cruise ships. I wonder who did that?
As Congresswoman Matsui points out, she and others in Congress are working on this issue. The cruise crime law is just the first step to deal with the problem of crime on cruise ships.
Watch the video interview of Congresswoman Matsui’s constituent, Laurie Dishman, here.
Video credit: NBC Bay Area