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WISTA Supports Midshipman X And Condemns ‘Horrific And Egregious’ Assaults At Sea

John Konrad
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October 21, 2021

by John Konrad (gCaptain) This week the U.S. branch of Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) issued a strong statement of support for Midshipman X, the anonymous 19-year-old US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) college student whose allegations of rape aboard the Maersk operated ship Alliance Fairfax sent shockwaves throughout the industry.

The letter, signed by ten members of the WISTA USA board, was emailed to members early this week.

The core mission of WISTA USA is to support and empower women in the maritime industry. To execute that mission, today we must turn our attention to protecting the safety and dignity of our colleagues at sea.

When MidshipmanX’s account of sexual assault circulated, our hearts went out to the victim, her family, and her Sea Partner. Sexual assault is a horrific crime. No one should be subjected to assault or harassment, nor should they work in fear of their colleagues.

We will soon see the third generation of women enter the service academies. Despite the decades that have passed since the first women walked through those doors, these crimes continue. The long-term impacts on the victims and their colleagues destroys our professionals and weakens our industry. The maritime industry has a long history of leadership, integrity, and fraternity, built upon years of the finest traditions of the sea. We must use that history to evolve and change.

As the largest network of women in shipping in the United States, we condemn these horrific and egregious actions and call for accountability. However, with more than 700 members spread from Hawaii and Alaska to Florida and Maine, we are in a position to do more. We represent all facets of the maritime industry – from seafarers to owners, lawyers to engineers, flag States and classification societies, P&I Clubs, and everyone in between. We are a unique bridge between various sectors of the maritime industry and as such we can be a catalyst for real change that protects our seafarers, and our shoreside teams.

In the coming weeks, WISTA USA will endeavor to convene a dialogue with industry stakeholders – shipowners and operators, maritime academies, and government. Our aim is to discuss what policies and procedures exist to protect the health, safety, and dignity of all seafarers, to review their enforcement, and further identify any additional steps that can be implemented. The maritime industry must provide a safe working environment for all.
WISTA USA will also consider how best to provide support for victims of sexual assault in the maritime industry; it is our goal to bring stakeholders to the table, to find a way to end these crimes, provide access to support resources for victims, and to strengthen our industry in the process.

WISTA USA will provide further details concerning this significant initiative, including how you, as a member of WISTA USA, can contribute and help make a change. It is time we leverage the breadth of our network to protect our maritime professionals and our industry.

Sincerely,

WISTA USA Board Of Directors

WISTA USA Email via Constant Contact

This letter joins a growing chorus of industry support for Midshipman X and the myriad assault at sea victims who remain anonymous, which includes MM&P Union, MEBA Union, Maersk, Human Rights at Sea, the US Department Of Transportation, and the United States Congress.

While Midshipman X has received strong support in the US and global media coverage the top international shipping organizations – including the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – mostly remain silent. A google search for the term “rape” on all three websites returns just one result proving the larger industry has largely ignored this uncomfortable topic.

Also read: Rape At Sea – An Open Letter To USMMA Midshipman X

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