Since her tenure as presidential adviser began in 2017, Ivanka Trump has carefully modelled herself as a champion of women's rights and economic empowerment. Combatting human trafficking, she has said, is one of the top priorities of the Trump administration. At the 2017 U.N. General Assembly, Ivanka delivered an anti-human trafficking speech, calling it "a pervasive humanitarian epidemic both domestically and abroad."
More recently, she penned an op-ed in the Washington Post about the administration's "bold action" against human and sex trafficking and has been lobbying for criminal justice reform alongside her husband Jared Kushner. Although it can be argued that Ivanka has simply been filling her portfolio with social justice buzz topics while oft ignoring her father's policies that are the antithesis of her alleged values, right now she has an opportunity to finally walk the walk: She can help get justice for Cyntoia Brown.
Brown was just 16-years-old when she shot and killed a 43-year-old man who had solicited her for sex in Tennessee; Brown said she had shot the man in self-defense after he became violent. Despite the fact she was a minor who had been sex trafficked, she was subsequently given two concurrent life sentences in 2004. Laws in Tennessee have changed dramatically since Brown was convicted — children under the age of 18 can no longer be tried for prostitution. But despite that, the state's Supreme Court recently ruled that Brown, now 30, must serve out the rest of her sentence, which is 51 years, before she can be considered for parole.
Celebrities have helped bring renewed attention to the case and the egregious miscarriage of justice, but it is Ivanka who can truly help move the needle of justice in Brown's favour. In June, Kim Kardashian West, Kushner, and Ivanka helped get clemency for Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman who was given a life sentence for a non-violent drug offence in 1993.
Though Brown's case is not federal, and it is up to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to grant her clemency, Ivanka can and should use her influence to highlight Brown's plight. If she is truly fighting to end human and sex trafficking, this is the moment for her to use the platform and privilege she has been given to speak out on behalf of Brown — and thousands of other women and children who are just like her.
"President Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist movement gave America a unique inheritance: a principled commitment to fight slavery in all its pernicious forms," Ivanka wrote in the Post. "This administration is continuing the fight to end modern slavery and using every tool at its disposal to achieve that critical goal."
It is critical she stand by those words.
Refinery29 has reached out to the White House in regards to Cyntoia Brown's case and will update this story when we hear back.