The recent sentencing of a Holland America crew member who raped and attempted to murder a female passenger aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam on Valentine’s Day, 2014, has raised several concerns over the safety of cruise ships, the efficacy of cruise line background screenings, and whether or not a victim of cruise ship rape can ever truly obtain justice, even when the assailant is caught and sentenced, as this particular crew member was.
The crew member, an Indonesian man named Ketut Pujayasa, was sentenced to over 30 years in prison in a Broward County Federal Court. Pujayasa admitted to his crimes, explaining he committed the heinous crimes after believing the victim had insulted him. Pujayasa obtained a master key to open the victim’s stateroom, where he waited for hours in her balcony until she returned. It was then that he proceeded to violently assault and sexually abuse her, before attempting to throw her overboard from the balcony. Miraculously, the victim escaped. She was present in court when the sentence was passed, but while it appears that a fair sentence was handed down, there is nothing that can erase the unspeakable pain she has suffered.
The damage incurred from the sexual assault and attempted murder can never be completely undone, and the victim continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress. Yet, despite the fact that sexual assault is the number one crime on cruise ships, the cruise industry continues to downplay the issue and has yet to incorporate an effective way to both handle and prevent these horrific crimes from happening.