If you're an avid follower of Rihanna or Kim Kardashian on social media, you might have seen the celebrities posting recently, campaigning for justice for 29-year-old Cyntoia Brown.
Cyntoia is currently serving a life sentence in prison for murder after she was found guilty of shooting and killing Johnny Michael Allen aged just 16. She has been in prison for the past decade, however many believe the justice system has failed her when you consider the context of the murder.
As a young teenager, Cyntoia was sexually abused by a pimp ominously named 'Cut-Throat', who sent her out on the streets as a prostitute in order to earn money for himself. In a 2011 documentary, Cyntoia recalled the constant rape and abuse she suffered at the hands of Cut-Throat, who would reportedly threaten her with violence if she didn't comply. "He'd jack me up, pull me by my hair and stuff," she said.
In August 2004, when she was just 16, Cut-Throat sold Cyntoia to a man named Johnny Michael Allen for sex. But the youngster was terrified of him. "At first he was stroking me but then he grabbed me in between my legs real hard and gave me this look," BBC Newsbeat reports she said in her trial.
"It was a very fierce look and it sent these chills up my spine."
Fearful Allen was going to hurt her, Cyntoia admits to grabbing a gun and shooting the man dead. She was convicted of murder, being sentenced life imprisonment, and has been serving out her time in Tennessee Prison for Women since she turned 18 in 2006. Cyntoia's sentence means she won't be eligible for parole for 51 years - by which time she'll be nearly 70.
Cynotia has admitted to killing Johnny Michael Allen, however the context in which it happened doesn't seem to have been considered by the courts and she has had no choice but to serve out her sentence. During her time in jail so far, Cyntoia has studied for an associate's degree and is now working on achieving her Bachelor's, according to Fox 17.
It's unclear why celebrities have started shedding light on the injustice of Cyntoia's case now, but their insistence on her freedom is a message that's spreading fast. Rihanna has posted twice in recent days about Cyntoia on her Instagram account, using the hashtag #FREECYNTOIABROWN, which has since gone viral.
"The system has failed," the reality star wrote on Twitter in a post that's so far got more than half a million likes, and over 200,000 retweets. "It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right."
The system has failed. It’s heart breaking to see a young girl sex trafficked then when she has the courage to fight back is jailed for life! We have to do better & do what’s right. I’ve called my attorneys yesterday to see what can be done to fix this. #FreeCyntoiaBrown pic.twitter.com/73y26mLp7u- Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) November 21, 2017
Kim K added in the tweet that she has spoken to her lawyers about the case "to see what can be done to fix this."
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