ITF says Merchant Navy Academy sexual assault case shows urgent need to make shipping safe for women


International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) says recent report of sexual assault by US Merchant Marine Academy cadet while at sea training shames shipping industry and underscores urgent need take action to eliminate violence in the workplace.

The case, known as Midshipman X in some circles, has garnered a lot of attention and scrutiny in the shipping industry. Details of the incident were revealed in an online article from the victim and published last month by a whistleblower website that works to expose incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the Merchant Navy. American.

In her article, the unidentified author describes how she was raped by a supervisor during her Sea Year training aboard the Maersk Line, a limited vessel operating in the Middle East in 2019. The victim also pointed out more issues large involving other Federal Service Marines. academy. The incident sparked investigations by AP Moller Maersk which have already led to the suspension of five crew members, as well as investigations by US authorities.

In a press article published on Tuesday, the ITF called on the shipping industry to work with seafarers to make the shipping industry safer for women.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident, but a reality for many seafarers, men and women, regardless of flag or company,” said the women’s representative of the People’s Section. ITF Seafarer Lena Dyring.

“We know that women’s experiences in the shipping industry, on land and at sea, often do not match the best intentions stated in policies. Although many female trainee sailors enjoy great support during their education ashore, including through mentoring programs, ”adds Dyrin.

“It is all too common an experience that too many female seafarers suffer from harassment and intimidation. Too many people experience discrimination in the workplace and, in the worst case, assault. “

Dyring said everyone in the maritime industry has a responsibility to change the male-dominated culture and remove the obstacles and barriers women face in the industry. Pendant also revealed details of a letter she received from a female sailor following the recent release of an ITF statement condemning an assault on an ITF female inspector.

In the letter, the sailor says that “violence is NOT the only reason the shipping industry cannot retain more women. The maritime industry is riddled with poor attitudes and perceptions towards female employment / training, cronyism, nepotism, lack of career development (i.e. being seen as unable to do the job, being ignored [usually by a junior male] and the lack of opportunities, employment options, career development, etc.).

As the ITF Seafarers Section Women’s Representative, Lena Dyring agrees that attracting and retaining women in the sea requires more than dealing with abusers to eliminate negative behavior.

“She is absolutely right that the positive contribution of women at sea must be celebrated and profiled. Together we can secure a career at sea. We can make it a safe place for everyone, including women, so that all seafarers can progress and realize their full potential, ”said Dyring.

According to the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO’s 2021 Seamen Report, women made up only 1.28% of the global maritime workforce and only 0.73% of officers in 2020. While Cruise and ferry sectors were the main employers of female seafarers, due to the pandemic, many women are considering returning to sea via the freight sector, where a female sailor is likely to outnumber men 20 to 1.

The ITF notes that while industry bodies, such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), have made efforts to increase the number of women in the maritime industry, in order to achieve meaningful progress, it must have an environment on board that is more inclusive of women. . “This requires seafarer awareness training with their active cooperation, the establishment of formal support networks for seafarers and confidential means for seafarers to raise concerns which are promptly investigated and addressed.” , said the ITF.

For its role, the ITF will soon publish its own support material for women seafarers, and will specifically include advice on seafarers’ rights to safe, healthy and violence-free workplaces.

But to achieve an industry that promotes diversity and inclusion and welcomes seafarers of all genders equally, the collaboration of all stakeholders in the maritime transport sector is necessary.

“The ITF global union family is grateful to this courageous woman for bearing witness to this terrible experience, as she makes this important issue more visible. The justified outrage her testimony sparked has the potential to move us towards a safer and more inclusive industry for the women and girls who will follow her in their careers at sea, ”said the ITF.

“It behooves all of us to honor the bravery of these sailors through our action. The shipping industry must now step up and make change happen – and real change requires real commitment. The ITF is ready to play its role in any way it can.


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