This Week in Women: Seeking Justice For Survivors
This week has brought moments of joy, much-needed support, and leadership that transcended business-as-usual. Read on for highly-anticipated updates around the Cyntoia Brown parole decision, Lady Gaga’s response to the R. Kelly controversy, and the powerful committee that Rep. Maxine Waters is leading to fight back against President Trump’s wall. It’s time for This Week in Women!
Cyntoia Brown Granted Clemency By Tennessee Governor
After serving 15 years of a life sentence, 30-year-old Cyntoia Brown has been granted clemency by Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and will be released on supervised parole starting August 7, 2019. Justice for Brown has been a hard fought cause, as she was just 16 years old when she feared for her safety and the man that bought her for sex. At the time of her initial sentencing, many of the child sex trafficking legal protections were not in play.
“This decision comes after careful consideration of what is a tragic and complex case,” said Gov. Haslam in an official statement. “Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16. Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life. Transformation should be accompanied by hope.”
“With God’s help, I am committed to live the rest of my life helping others, especially young people,” said Brown in as part of issued by her legal team. “My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been.”
Lady Gaga Voices Support for Survivors in Wake of R. Kelly Controversy
As mentioned in , Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary has shone a glaring, unflinching light on the singer’s controversial, habitual behavior of abusing women. However, Lady Gaga’s voice was noticeably missing from the conversation. This was especially significant, because as a sexual violence survivor and supporter of the #MeToo movement, it was perceived by many that she was not voicing solidarity for the survivors.
Lady Gaga broke her silence on Thursday, issuing a statement that condemned R. Kelly’s alleged behavior and that she stands “behind these women 1000%.”
“As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life, my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life.”
“Do What U Want” has since been removed from streaming services, including iTunes and Apple Music.
Rep. Maxine Waters Takes the Lead of House Financial Services Committee
The California Congresswoman is leading the charge against President Trump’s border wall and the shutdown that is wreaking havoc on the country’s economic welfare, in her history-making appointment as the chairwoman of the influential Financial Services Committee. She is the first African American and first woman to hold the position. Rep. Waters has served on the committee since 1995, which oversees entire financial services industry, including insurance, housing and banking.
Her appointment comes at a critical time as the shutdown drags on and hundreds of thousands of government employees continue to be deprived of income, as well as million of households being affected by the partial closure of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Today marks the 20th day of the second longest government shutdown in U.S. history. It is shameful that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are so desperate to secure taxpayer funding for a senseless border wall that they’re willing to leave American families with uncertainty and instability,” she said in an .
Featured image via NBC News
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women and check out our previous installments here.