The shrouded, sinister figures that come to mind when we think of traffickers are always men.
This is for good reason, because males dominate almost all illegal industries. Eight-six percent of violent offenders are men, and 90% of sexual assault offenders are men. Regarding human trafficking, women tend to be on the receiving end of the crime: 71% of trafficking victims are female. But because of the male-perpetrator, female-victim mindset we have, we don’t make the connection that women are also selling people.
Human trafficking is a whole different breed of criminal activity. You don’t need brute force, a tendency to aggression, or weeks of planning. There’s not much risk involved. All you need is a person to sell and the clientele to buy. The clientele is no problem, as the United States is the top consumer of commercial sex in the world.
Yes, you saw that right. It’s not Thailand, it’s not Cambodia, it’s the United States of America. Our country also happens to be the top consumer of pornography in the world, and that’s not a coincidence. Click here to read how porn fuels slavery…but I digress.
Contrary to popular belief, many traffickers are women.
Worldwide, 38% of the suspected perpetrators of human trafficking are female. If you only consider Central Europe and East Asia, this number jumps to 68%.
Often, these women are or have been victims themselves, and exploiting other women is a way to receive better treatment from the pimp. It’s a complicated mess, but to help you understand, here are the most common positions that women hold in the world of slavery:
- “Madam” – leader of the trafficking ring
- “Partner-in-crime” – wife, girlfriend, or partner who voluntarily teams up with the male offender
- “Authority figure” – mother, aunt, older sister, etc. who sells a person related to her
- “Handler” – recruits, harbors, grooms, and transports victims
- “Bottom b-tch” – a victim who (after gaining the trust of the pimp) is given additional responsibilities, such as recruiting, collecting money, training and disciplining the girls, and arranging “dates” for them.
Sometimes, a popular high school girl will actually be a “bottom b-tch.” She flaunts her expensive jewelry and clothing, makes friends with the younger middle school girls, and when asked about the special privileges she seems to have, she shows them how to get those things. She offers the girls an easy “job” and brings them to “parties” and “dates” because they can’t drive yet.
Very few studies have been done on traffickers, which prolongs the myth.
The majority of research focuses on the victims, such as who is most susceptible, why victims don’t leave their pimp, or how to heal from the complex trauma they experience. Few studies have been done on male traffickers, and even fewer on female traffickers. But according to a study published in 2017, these facts are clear: 56% of women arrested for trafficking identify as the “bottom b-tch,” and involvement of women traffickers is on the rise. This means 1) over half of women traffickers are forced to take on the dual role of abuser and victim, and 2) we need to abolish this male-perpetrator myth quickly so the people we love are informed and protected.
Greed is the common denominator in female traffickers whose involvement didn’t begin as victim.
Everyone–both men and women–are susceptible to this vice. Human trafficking can look like easy money. Even if you’re only selling two women, you can make half a million a year. It’s the perfect crime, because when you break a girl’s spirit and brainwash her into believing she’s worthless, the girl will sell herself and give you the cash.
Depravity is a disease that affects the whole human race, and women are unfortunately just as capable as men of committing such malicious acts. Only the grace of God restrains us from reaching the depths of our brokenness; if He lets us go an inch further, we would be horrified at our willingness to inflict hurt on others.
If we don’t slash the stereotype of only male traffickers, the cycle of women selling women will go in all its endless pain and depravity. Maybe you’ve read my post Don’t Become a Victim, but go back and read it again. This time, picture both men and women in the explanations of traffickers’ tactics. Don’t let any more corrupt, perverted women carry out their sick crimes undetected by law enforcement or ordinary passers-by, and certainly don’t fall victim yourself to their deceit.
These women need to face the consequences of their actions, but they also need treatment for the physical and emotional abuse they’ve endured. Join the fight to end slavery, and share the truth of Jesus wherever you go, because He’s the only One who can redeem such brokenness.