Opinion by J1 Reporter Qwynn Watts
Sex-trafficking, the phrase that many people are afraid of confronting because it is too real and awful to accept that it is happening in our world today.
Around 800,000 people all over the United States of America are subjected to sexual exploitation as you read this. You may dismiss this whole idea and say, “Well that’s a not-in-my-backyard type of problem.” However, you are wrong. In Omaha alone there have been 188 trafficking cases since 2007, and well over half have been sex-trafficking specifically according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Sex-trafficking is a combination of two aspects, human trafficking and sexual slavery. Sexual slavery is where a woman/man is recruited by the trafficker and transported or “provided” to customers for sexual purposes.
Imagine being a young, naive 16-year-old in a courtroom after the most traumatic experience in your life. You are being sentenced to a lifetime in prison after fighting for your self worth and dignity by killing your “owner” as a way of self defense.
This is the case of Cyntoia Brown which has gone viral in recent months on several forms of media because of the release of the documentary, “Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story” in 2010. Rihanna then noticed the case in mid-November and posted with the hashtag, “#FreeCyntoiaBrown” which caused a thread of celebrities to repost as well, spreading awareness. At a very young age, her mother became unsuitable to raise her and she was put in the care of Ellenette Brown. Cyntoia became a runaway by 2004. At 16, she had relations with a 24-year-old abusive pimp named “Kut Throat” who raped and forced her into prostitution. Soon after, she was purchased by Johnny Allen. He was a 43-year-old real estate agent, who owned many guns. That very night she was scared that if she didn’t obey his sexual desires, he would kill her so she took evasive action and stole a few guns from his house, shot him and ran away. She eventually was caught, convicted of first-degree murder aggravated robbery, and is serving a life sentence, as reported by CNN and ABC News.
Now ponder the case of Brock Turner. According to NY Times and CNN, Brock Turner was a former Stanford college student who was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person and penetration of an intoxicated person in March of 2016 on the account in January 2015. He was only sentenced to six months in jail when these felonies could attest to a mere 14 years in prison. In the end, he only served three before being released for “good behavior” in September of that same year.
I find it extremely difficult to make sense of the outcome of these two cases. How is sexual assault viewed as less cruel than an individual using self defense against sexual assault? To me that is completely absurd.
Are we saying that if the victim at Turner’s hands had the opportunity to fight back and resist, she shouldn’t? This is the message that America’s court system is sending to young men and women across the nation: For men it is okay to sexually assault women because the consequences are minimal (referring to Turner’s case), and for women if you’re being abused or assaulted by someone it is best to accept defeat and be stripped of your self-worth.
These trials need to be seen in a new light to show that America has a problem. America’s problem is degrading women and not seeing them equal in the workplace, the courtroom, and in life. Bring justice to Cyntoia Brown. She is a fighter and deserves to live on, finish her studies, and have a family like the rest of us. Bring justice to Brock Turner and resentence him to 14 years in prison, the time he deserves for the felonies he committed.