Valentine’s Day was not all flowers and roses for one U.S. citizen on a recent seven-day, Holland America Line cruise vacation. Instead, the woman ended up beaten, bloody and raped. She almost ended up dead after the particularly vicious assault by an employee of the cruise line. Her attacker attempted to throw her over the railing of her stateroom balcony into the dark, fast-moving sea that surely would have swallowed her body and hidden his crime. The man arrested for the assault, Indonesian citizen Ketut Pujayasa, said he was offended by the 31-year-old woman when he delivered her room service and she spoke curtly to him. His extreme reaction to having his sensibilities offended has garnered him charges of aggravated sexual abuse and attempted murder – assault charges that may land him in prison for a very long time.
Ketut Pujayasa was working aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam during the “Bare Necessities” clothing optional Caribbean cruise as a stateroom attendant. Given the necessary responsibilities of his position, he carried a universal key card to every room, thus he was able to reenter the stateroom and hide on the balcony until the woman returned. Once Pujayasa’s intended victim had retired for the night, he came out of hiding and attacked her using everyday items from her room, including her own curling iron, to beat and and, using the cord, attempt to strangle her.
The victim has told the FBI that she was in fear for her life. In a desperate self-defense maneuver, she was able to stab Pujayasa with a corkscrew and wearing only a bloody t-shirt, escape into the hallway where another passenger assisted her.
Pujayasa told the FBI that he had been very angry with the woman because when he delivered her room service she told him to wait after he had repeatedly knocked at the door. He said that the woman’s use of the phrase, “Son of a b****” during her exchange with him was offensive not only to him, but to his parents, and apparently this was enough to send him into a violent rage.
Maritime lawyer Jim Walker, who, according to the New York Times “has attended more than half a dozen Congressional hearings about cruise ship crime and passenger safety” has weighed in on the Holland America Line case. Walker says that other women have come forward in Congressional hearings and have testified about the vulnerability that they felt when male room attendants had universal key cards, which gave them 24-hour access to their shipboard accommodations. Walker says, male cabin attendants should not be responsible for cabins where there are single women or children. He further suggests that the key cards of employees should be deactivated after working hours.
Holland America Line asserts that Pujayasa had been thoroughly investigated before he had been hired, that he had no criminal history and in his capacity as a room service attendant had previously conducted himself in a manner in accordance with ship policy. The CEO of the company has expressed both his shock and sadness that one of the company’s guests was so brutally victimized, but his sentiment may have little effect on the stain of assault and rape now attached to the Holland America Line name.
By Alana Marie Burke
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