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How Our Justice System Currently Supports Sexual Assault

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Cyntoia Brown, a victim of sex trafficking, was failed by our justice system not only in the past few years leading up to her trial but last week when she was sentenced to 51 years without parole for shooting the man who bought her.

Brown was 16 years old in 2004 when 43-year-old Johnny Allen solicited her for sex from the pimp who had forced her into prostitution. Allen was allegedly reaching for a gun when Brown reacted, drawing her own instead and saving herself. Brown was convicted as a teenager and has since been awaiting her trial.

Image from Huffington Post.

Despite being a juvenile when the supposed crime– if that is what you wish to call an act of self-defense— was committed, Brown was tried as an adult and stripped of immunities her young status would have afforded her, such as protection from a life sentence.

Since the verdict, many have spoken out in defense of Brown’s actions. For example, the organizers of the Women’s March have announced a nationwide march in support of Brown on January 19th.

Image from Twitter.

Others have been pointing out the stark differences in sentencing between white men convicted of rape and this young woman of color defending herself from it. As a college woman, cases like Brock Turner and his ridiculously short sentence of 6 months (which, as we can recall, only 3 months were actually served) hit pretty close to home. And while one was an adult who was tried as if he was a child who couldn’t have known any better, the other was a child and already a victim of horrific circumstances. Yet the second was tried and treated as if they were a cold, calculating killer with no remorse. Turner was defended by saying that he was a “good kid at heart” and that he had “potential that couldn’t be wasted,” Brown was not given a chance.

Image from Huffington Post.

There is no excuse for the disgusting treatment of women of color in the criminal justice system. Our hearts go out to Cyntoia Brown. We can only hope the justice system will be reformed so that rape culture is not perpetuated and victims are given the justice they deserve.

Lydia Stalcup

CU Boulder '20

Lydia is a former Collaborations Manager for Her Campus @ CU Boulder. She is currently pursuing her BA in Sociology with a minor in Political Science and is usually stressing over her research. If she's not at her desk, you can almost always find her wandering around Boulder or snuggling with her cat, Kiwi.
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