On October 10, 2010, off the coast of Israel, a 40-year-old South African woman working on a Celebrity cruise ship blacked out while having a drink with a male co-worker in his cabin. She awoke hours later to find the man, a Costa Rican, raping her.
The sexual assault at sea was only the beginning of the woman's nightmare. After reporting the crime, she was confined to her cabin for days, denied medical care, and then dumped back in South Africa with no hope of justice, according to a lawsuit filed this past August 31 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
Her case is only one piece in a pattern of cruise lines hushing up crimes against their foreign-born workers, says the woman's lawyer, James Walker. "They brush off these horrible assaults as if it's a passenger who lost luggage."
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"There was no prosecution of the crime, and this woman was not provided the counseling or medication she needed after the attack," Walker says. "These companies are simply too concerned with their image to prosecute staff who commit these crimes."