Cyntoia Brown is serving a life sentence for killing a man while trying to escape the horrors of child sex slavery

Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for killing a man who paid her for sex while she was just 16 years old — and now, many celebrities are joining the rallying cry to free her.

A picture with a caption detailing Brown's harrowing life of repeated rape in the sex -trafficking underworld went viral on Monday, shared by the likes of Rihanna, T.I. and Kim Kardashian, refocusing the attention on what many see as unjust punishment for a girl who had an unthinkable childhood.

"Imagine at the age of 16 being sex-trafficked by a pimp named "cut-throat," the Instagram post featuring a picture of Brown from filmmaker Daniel Birman's 2011 documentary following her case reads. "After days of being repeatedly drugged and raped by different men, you were purchased by a 43-year-old child predator who took you to his home to use you for sex. You end up finding enough courage to fight back and shoot and kill him."

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SHAMLAPUR, BANGLADESH - JULY 4: A photograph of Rohingya trafficking victim Mohammad Aiaz is seen July 4, 2015 in Shamlapur, Bangladesh. On March 5, 2015 Aiaz met a man who promised to take him to a good job in Malaysia for free. He left Bangladesh with 13 other Rohingya. A few days after that his mother, Lila Begum, got a phone call from her son saying he was on the ship and that she needed to pay a man in Teknaf 200,000 taka ($2,570) or he would be killed. She managed to pay 175,000 but she has not heard from her son since. In the past months thousands of Rohingya have landed on the shores of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, many of them by way of Bangladesh. The Rohingya pay up to $2,000 to traffickers, and they sail out from Bangladesh's southern coastline on fishing boats to meet larger ships in the deep sea that will take them to Malaysia. UNHCR estimates that there are more than 300,000 Rohingya living in Bangladesh. (Photo by Shazia Rahman/Getty Images)
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Sex workers and sympathizers demonstrate on April 9, 2015 against the closure of window brothels by the municipality in the red light district in Amsterdam. With Project 1012, the Amsterdam wants to close window prostitution to prevent crime, human trafficking and degradation. AFP PHOTO / ANP / ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN - netherlands out - (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump speaks during a meeting on action to end modern slavery and human trafficking on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
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ATHENS, ATTIKI, GREECE - 2017/10/14: Greek human right activists take part in the 2017 Walk for Freedom event raising awareness about Human Trafficking. (Photo by George Panagakis/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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The post goes on to say that Brown was tried as an adult in Tennessee for killing 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allen after he solicited her for sex. She was found guilty of murder and prostitution and was sentenced to life in prison. Brown is not eligible for parole until she turns 69.

In the documentary and more recently this past Thursday, Birman revealed insights into Brown's life — how she suffered physical, sexual and verbal abuse for years.

"We started the conversation (with Brown being) a young girl who's at the tail end of three generations of violence against women," he told Tennessee's Fox17 Nashville. "She had no chance."

During her trial in 2004, Brown testified that she was choked, beaten and raped frequently in her home and threatened at gunpoint. Her lawyers tried to argue that this kind of environment and the trauma she suffered as a child is what led her to shoot Allen after he paid her for sex.

Back then, it did not matter during her trial and sentencing that Brown was a child, but since Birman's documentary, the laws in Tennessee have changed. A person now has to be 18 or older to be charged for prostitution and children are automatically considered the victim in sex trafficking cases.

Brown is now 29 and has already been imprisoned for nearly 13 years. In that time she's completed her associate's degree through Lipscomb University's in-jail program, is reportedly working on her Bachelor's and is a volunteer with the Juvenile Justice association.

A MoveOn petition aimed at Brown's freedom through a presidential pardon is currently circulating online. It's garnered nearly 124,000 signatures to date.

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Mugshots from those arrested in Houston area sex trafficking sting
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Brian Ard
Osmel Amaya
Iheanyichukui Amaliri
Cristobal Alvarado
Thaddeus Allen
David Alipio
Jose Aguliar-Hernandez
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