People Are Calling For The Release Of A Teen Sex-Trafficking Victim Jailed For Life

22 November 2017, 13:28 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 14:59

Cyntoia Brown
Cyntoia Brown. Picture: Me Facing Life: Cyntoia's Story
Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and many others are expressing their support for Cyntoia Brown.

The internet and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna are demanding justice for Cyntoia Brown, a victim of sex trafficking who was sentenced to life in prison for shooting her abuser at the age of 16. She will only be eligible for parole after serving 51 years in prison, at which time she would be 67 years-old.

Her original conviction was in 2004. Filmmaker Dan Birman shot a documentary over several years called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story, released in 2011, which documented Cyntoia’s backstory and her court case.

It is from this documentary that inspired a post which went viral last week. In the post, Cyntoia is said to have been a child sex slave who was kept in a cycle of abuse by a pimp nicknamed “Cut-Throat” after running away from home. After being drugged and raped by different men, she was then purchased by Johnny Allen who wanted to use her for sex. In then says Cyntoia stood up to Allen and shot him in self-defence after she tried to escape.

Many people are using the #FreeCyntoiaBrown hashtag to voice their disbelief that a young girl who was forced to be a sex slave was tried as an adult and convicted of murder. As a Fox News report on the case revealed, this is because laws in Tennessee were updated after the documentary about Cyntoia’s case. Birman's film on Cyntoia helped change Tennessee law for children: now anyone 18 or younger can't even be charged with prostitution. If Brown's case was heard today, the court would treat her as a child human trafficking victim.

Despite of her circumstances Cyntoia Brown has gone on to graduate from Lipscomb University and obtained an Associate’s Degree while in prison. She is currently working towards a Bachelors degree too. She has also worked with the juvenile justice system as an unpaid consultant to make things better.

Let's hope this renewed pressure on the courts will have some success in giving Cyntoia the second chance at life that she so deserves.