Rapists and molesters travelling at high speed on jet skis have emerged as a major threat to tourists and tourism in a seemingly idyllic tropical island paradise and popular cruise destination.
The US Embassy in the Bahamas has acted following the most recent reported rape.
According to the Nassau Tribune: “Police said an American woman was on Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island around 5pm, when a man on a jet ski allegedly raped her.” The victim became the fifth American to be raped by a jet ski operator in the Bahamas in the past 18 months – and Americans are by no means the only victims.
The US Embassy issued a statement: “Since July 2014, there have been five sexual assaults of US citizens by jet-ski operators in Nassau [capital of the Bahamas], the most recent on January 2, 2016. As a result, the US Embassy has prohibited personnel under US Embassy Chief of Mission authority from using the services of jet-ski rental operators in Nassau.
“This includes jet-ski operators on Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach. We strongly advise that US citizens do the same and not patronize these services. Jet-ski rentals in the Bahamas are only minimally regulated.”
The Tribune newspaper in Nassau reported that the Bahamian man arrested for the alleged rape was not a water sports operator but “just a man with a jet ski and a boat hanging on the beach”. Police and troops have been deployed to deter such behaviour.
Commenting on the Tribune article, one reader remarked sarcastically: “This is just what our tourists come here to see, machine-gun toting cops and marines on the beach fraternising with the jet-ski operators. What a scene of tropical paradise.”
Other attacks by waterborne molesters are suspected to have gone unreported. The speed of the craft allows bandits and gropers to zoom up to beaches, rob or rape their victims and escape. Unscrupulous jet ski operators take victims for a ride and make unscheduled detours that end in sexual assaults.
Many Bahamians are concerned about the reputation their country is gaining for rape and crime. Tourism is tremendously important to this nation of over 700 islands, cays, and islets, located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba.
“We receive more complaints about crime in Nassau than all of the other ports in the Caribbean combined,” eminent Miami-based maritime lawyer, Jim Walker, notes in in his Cruise Law News blog. “Armed robberies, sexual assault of teenagers and young women, and the murder of a tourist makes this port a dangerous place to take your family. The second you step off the cruise ship you’re likely to be offered drugs. The US State Department has issued multiple critical crime warnings for the Bahamas.”
Just a week ago, prominent Bahamian political figure Branville McCarthy told the Tribune: “The number one priority of this government must be to get crime under control. I hope the Prime Minister is seriously taking into consideration, before anything else, getting crime under control, enforcing the law and making people realise there are consequences for their actions.
“These guys are running amok in our country. They have no respect for human life, no respect for the law, and no respect for property. It’s like the Wild Wild West.”
Written by Peter Needham