ITF: Midshipman X case highlights need for industry-wide action

Written by

Nick blenkey

“It is all too common an experience that too many female seafarers suffer from harassment and intimidation,” says Lena Dyring, female transport workers representative in the ITF Seafarers Section. [Photo: Leo Erdfelt, WMU]

The rape and sexual assault revelations made by the US Merchant Marine Academy cadet, now known as “Midshipman X,” underscore the urgent need for action to end violence at the scene. work across the shipping industry, according to the International Transport Federation (ITF).

“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. “

“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, ”said Dyring, adding that everyone in the maritime industry has a responsibility to change the male-dominated culture and remove the obstacles and barriers faced by women in industry.


Dyring also revealed that following the recent publication of an ITF statement condemning an assault on an ITF female inspector, she received a letter from a female sailor which contained a strong message to the industry that deserves to be amplified.

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 unfavorable attitudes and perceptions towards the employment / training of women, cronyism, nepotism, lack of career development [usually by a junior male] and the lack of opportunities, job options, career development, etc.) ”.

“She is absolutely right that the positive contribution of women at sea must be celebrated and profiled,” Pendant said. “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.

The ITF points out that in 2020, women made up just 1.28% of the global maritime workforce and only 0.73% of officers. While the cruise and ferry sectors were the main employers of seafarers, the pandemic severely affected employment in this sector, with many seafarers who worked on cruises considering returning to sea via the freight sector. , where a female seafarer will generally outnumber 20: 1 among an otherwise all-male crew.

For many years the industry, supported by bodies such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), has strived to increase the number of women in the maritime industry, including in managerial positions.

Intentions are good, says the ITF, but to make meaningful progress there must be an environment on board that includes women. This requires seafarer awareness training with their active cooperation, the establishment of formal support networks for seafarers and confidential channels for seafarers to raise issues that are promptly reviewed and addressed. Unacceptable behavior must be immediately addressed and stopped.

The ITF announces that it will soon publish its own support material for women seafarers and that it will specifically include advice on seafarers’ rights to safe, healthy and violence-free workplaces. The impetus is in line with the ITF’s support for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 by national governments. C190 clearly spells out the rights of all workers to be protected from gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work.

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