How The Justice System Fails To Protect Black Women

black woman grasping at bars
Via blackpressusa
Tremain Prioleau II
September 19, 2023

Black women who face abuse and violence are forced to save themselves and then they’re punished by the criminal legal system. There's no justice when Black women don’t have agency over themselves. History has proven this.

During enslavement, Black women were routine victims of sexual violence by white slaveowners. They were seen as property, and therefore violence against them went ignored, but they could be punished, and even killed, for defending themselves.

Today at least 1 in 5 Black women are survivors of rape and for every Black woman who reports rape, at least 15 never report the crime out of fear. Black women often don’t trust state-protection and why would they when police, prison guards, and other authorities are often predatory, too?

Women and girls like Joan Little, Cyntoia Brown, and Bresha Meadows have been punished for protecting themselves from abusers at home, behind bars, and in the streets. Their cases became high profile but the violence they face societally is all too regular. The criminal legal system makes it worse, but some people are fighting back.

Activists like Mariame Kaba and Andrea Ritchie are leading voices in the fight against gender based violence and the criminalization of survivors. Grassroots organizations like Survived & Punished are helping free these survivors from incarceration and punishment. How can we all find ways to support these survivors more?

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