In this video op-ed, Deputy Editor, Natasha S. Alford, talks about people’s different reactions to Cyntoia Brown and R.Kelly’s accusers. Read the video transcript below.
A lot of people are celebrating Cyntoia Brown’s freedom. She’s getting clemency after serving almost 15 years on a life sentence, for murdering a man who bought her for sex when she was just 16-years-old.
But how is it that some of the same people who are celebrating Cyntoia Brown have no compassion for victims of R.Kelly.
Hate to tell you but if you are celebrating Cyntoia Brown’s clemency and have no compassion for R.Kelly’s alleged victims, you’re a bit of a walking contradiction.
Yes! Justice prevails! Freedom! Never give up the fight! Stand up for victims of sexual violence! Right? So how is that some of the same people celebrating Brown’s early release have no compassion for alleged victims of R. Kelly’s crimes.
if you celebrate Cyntoia Brown’s clemency and don’t empathize with survivors of R. Kelly’s abuse, you’re a walking contradiction. People have mocked these women, called them liars, users, “fast” girls.
But Brown and R. Kelly’s victims actually have a lot in common. First: they were all victims of sexual predators who groomed them when they were young. They all claimed to have been physically abused and hit. (NOTE: R.Kelly has denied all claims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.) Brown was actually sex trafficked as a teen by a pimp named “Kutthroat.”
Prosecutors characterized Brown as simply a prostitute (a.k.a fast girl) who knew what she signed up for—who murdered a man in cold blood and steal his money whereas Brown said she was a victim who feared for her life. One of the major differences between Brown and Kelly’s alleged victims is that Brown fought back and got punished for killing a child.
Would we empathize with Kelly’s alleged victims if they fought back too? If this wasn’t a story about proving he was abusive, but actually having to explain why he got assaulted, beat up or worse?
Some of these parents who want their kids’ back were almost at that point. The big question here is not picking apart all the ways these cases are exactly the same or different. The question is why do we judge young women who being victims of abuse, insisting that they should’ve just walked away or known better to be in that situation, when psychology, statistics and simply life, has shown us that it’s not easy.
The extreme cases are Brown’s—and in the worst—the victims die at the hands of abusers and we never hear that side of the story.
So when we have an opportunity to hear, to empathize, to understand, why aren’t we listening?