Press Release – Statement by YWCA USA CEO, Alejandra Y. Castillo:
“Cyntoia Brown’s tragic and unjust sentencing is a horrible yet all-too-common example of the challenges marginalized victims of gender-based violence face every day. As the news cycle revolves around high-profile abusers and the survivors they have left in their wake, we at YWCA are ever-cognizant of the women and girls whose stories have been forever altered by abuse, but whose stories may never be told.
What we find just as troubling is the consistent cruelty of our justice system toward women and girls of color. Girls of color are at heightened risk for sexual violence, and our country’s response is to disproportionately overpolice them and push them into the criminal justice system. A recent study showed that 86% of women in jail are survivors of sexual violence. Cyntoia Brown was just a child, and she was repeatedly abused. She was a victim of sexual violence and predation, and she was punished for navigating abuse however she knew how. Girls shouldn’t be punished for the lengths they go to in order to survive. Once again, we see that our criminal justice system sought justice for an abuser, but not for the victim. Once again, we see that Black women and girls are not deemed worthy of receiving justice and support.
The amplification around Cyntoia’s story is crucial, and now we need legislators to act and give us lasting change that protects, rather than penalizes survivors of violence.”
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