• Athena Ives

Female Sex Traffickers


On Thursday, July 2nd , 2020, British Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, was arrested and charged in a 17-page indictment with allegedly enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit both of those crimes, and perjury related to a sworn deposition. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years in federal prison. When most people think about sex traffickers, they picture a male, but researchers disagree (The Guardian, 2020).

From 2011-2015, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service registered a total of 1332 suspects of trafficking in human beings. Out of the suspects, 227 of them were women (17%). Looking at a global perspective, approximately 38% of human traffickers are female. The also found in some countries, those numbers are much higher. In Central Europe and East Asia, women are twice as likely to be a human trafficker than a man (Wijkman & Kleemans, 2019). “In Europe, women make up a larger share of those convicted for human trafficking offenses than for most other forms of crime” (Keller, 2018).

According to Keller (2018):

· There has been a steady increase in female sex trafficker involvement.

· Fewer than 1 out of 5 arrests for sex trafficking of a minor involved a person who was gang involved.

· 55.5% of the females arrested were identified in the report as the role of a “bottom” which is the most trusted sex trafficked person by the sex trafficker who may also be prostituted, may recruit victims, give rules and trainings, and may give out punishment.

· The female sex traffickers were significantly more likely to have a prior prostitution charge when compared to the male sex traffickers.

As many of you that watched Filthy Rich (Jeffery Epstein documentary) know, victims often become involved with the operations of sex trafficking. Many of you that have not been in their shoes may wonder how these women could get involved after being abused themselves.

According to Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, “one of the most common pathways for a woman to become involved in the inner workings of a sex-trafficking operation is to have been a victim herself, often from a young age. As their abusers break them down, indoctrinate them, and convince them to go along with all the things involved in that lifestyle. I really want to keep the responsibility on the abusers. I think it can be seen as a way out. If you want a way out of that, making yourself more valuable as a moneymaker, as a broker … you try to climb out if you can" (McLaughlin, 2019).

Another well known female Trafficker is Smallville actress Allison Mack who recruited and groomed female victims for the NXIVM Sex Cult. Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Kathy Russell were also arrested for their involvement (McLaughlin, 2019). Traffickers often use their victims as recruits, similar to the Epstein Sex Trafficking Pyramid Scheme he had developed. In some esex trafficking rings, the pimps set up a hierarchy, in which the most seasoned victim, and therefore the most trusted by the pimp, is sent out to recruit other girls and boys. This trusted victim is known as the “bottom” and is often responsible for keeping track of fellow victims’ monetary earnings and discipline. Essentially, victims are expected to create more victims. This is the depth of control their captors have over them.


Many women are convinced that their trafficker loves them and they will do whatever is asked of them. Traffickers are clever and one tactic they use to lure their victims is they play the hero. They create a situation where they get predators to attack and sometimes gang rape a target. The trafficker then runs in, rescues the target, and becomes her hero. "SHE WILL LIKELY NEVER KNOW THAT THE MAN WHO "SAVED" HER FROM GANG RAPE WAS ACTUALLY THE MAN WHO ORCHESTRATED IT ALL" (Tomkiewicz, 2016). This man just saved her life, is what she is thinking. She is grateful to him, sometimes falls in love with him, that’s when he has her. It then develops into, ‘you’ll sleep with him if you love me; I saved you, why would I do that if I didn’t love you; I buy you everything you want but I need you to start puling your weight; if you recruit other girls you won’t have to sleep with the other men; you recruited her because she needs money and a better life; I take care of all my girls.’ "THEY PREY ON THE LONGINGS OF THE VICTIM'S HEART AND FILL PSYCHOLOGICAL WOUNDS THAT THE VICTIM HAS HAD INFLICTED ON HIM OR HER” (Tomkiewicz, 2016).

Keller, J. (2018). The Freedom Story. The Case of Female Traffickers. Retrieved from https://thefreedomstory.org/the-case-of-female-traffickers/

McLaughlin, K. (2019). The Insider. A shocking 38% of sex trafficking suspects are women — and many are former victims. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/women-play-a-large-role-in-sex-trafficking-operations-2019-8

The Guardian (2020). What's next for Ghislaine Maxwell – and will she cooperate with prosecutors?Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/03/what-next-for-ghislaine-maxwell-will-she-cooperate-with-prosecutors

Tomkiewicz, K. (2016). Traffickers are Luring Their Victims. Retrieved from https://www.redeemingloveca.com/new-blog/disillusion-how-traffickers-are-luring-victims

Wijkman, M., & Kleemans, E. (2019). Female offenders of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Crime, Law and Social Change, 72(1), 53-72.

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