WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 07, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WASHINGTON, D.C. –Rights4Girls, a human rights organization working to disrupt the sexual abuse to prison pipeline and end violence against vulnerable young women in the U.S., joins advocates across the country in celebrating the release of Cyntoia Brown, who was released from the Tennessee Prison for Women today. Cyntoia, a child sex trafficking survivor whose harrowing story clearly illuminates the realities of the sexual abuse to prison pipeline, was sentenced to life in prison at age 16 for the death of a man who paid to rape her as a child.
After serving more than a decade in prison, Cyntoia was granted clemency by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam when advocates and individuals from around the country joined her legal team in calling for her release. Significantly, when Cyntoia was sentenced in 2004, federal laws did not yet recognize that American children could be victims of child sex trafficking. Instead, the violence these children suffered was often masked by labeling them “child prostitutes.”
“Cyntoia’s case received national attention because of increased understanding that there is no such thing as a ‘child prostitute’ and that it is a miscarriage of justice to punish a child for their own exploitation,” said Yasmin Vafa, executive director of Rights4Girls.
“Though her release is an important step in disrupting the abuse to prison pipeline in this country, the truth is Cyntoia should never have been criminalized in the first place. We still have a tremendous amount of work to do to change the structures and policies that allowed Cyntoia, and countless other survivors, to be punished for their own victimization rather than be met with the protections all children deserve.”
“This is especially so for our most marginalized young women and girls, including girls of color who are overrepresented among both trafficking survivors as well as girls involved in the justice system,” said Vafa. “This reality should serve as a stark reminder that we must prioritize the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable girls by challenging backwards attitudes and policies that disproportionately victimize and then criminalize young women.”
For more information on Rights4Girls, email Cherice Hopkins at email@example.com or visit www.rights4girls.org.
Rights4Girls is a Washington, D.C.-based human rights organization dedicated to protecting the rights of marginalized young women and girls in the U.S. We work to change the narrative as well as policies that allow girls to be criminalized when they are victimized and advocate for approaches that provide girls and young women with safety and support. Through our award-winning No Such Thing campaign, we have succeeded in changing the language as well as the laws that criminalize survivors of child sex trafficking for their own exploitation.
Cherice Hopkins Rights4Girls 202-821-1626 firstname.lastname@example.org