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Black girls meanwhile, find far less empathy. They are routinely seen as older than they are, and sexualized by society at a young age. A recent study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality showed that Black girls as young as 5 years old were perceived by adults to be “less innocent and more adult-like” than their white peers. This perception leads to a disproportionate treatment in law enforcement and court systems, “which may contribute to more punitive exercise of discretion by those in positions of authority, greater use of force, and harsher penalties.”

Santera Matthews, who is part of Kizer’s defense campaign and works with Survived and Punished, believes law enforcement’s apparent lack of sympathy for Kizer and other trafficked Black girls amounts to its own form of extrajudicial violence.

“This is not an anomaly,” she tells me. “Black girls are being denied personhood. The police knew about Volar’s activities. They watched the footage. But their job is to uphold white supremacy. I feel like the police are the vigilantes here.”

Read the Article in Bustle