Public Opinion is Clear: Urgent Legislation Required to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation! Read the story

ECPAT Attends Women of the World Festival 2023

Posted on Mar 23, 2023

Images courtesy of Lifting Limits UK  

Promoting d
ialogue on the sexual exploitation and abuse of boys

LONDON—In partnership with Equimundo, ECPAT International participated in the London Women of the World (WOW) Festival from 10-12 March 2023. 

With festivals in more than 30 countries, across six continents, the WOW Festival represents the world’s largest space for world-renowned speakers, activists, and artists to celebrate women, girls, and non-binary people. 

“Boys are excluded from conversations about child sexual exploitation and abuse.”

~Zahra Beg, Research Associate at ECPAT International 

This year, ECPAT International was invited by Equimundo to engage in dialogue on the sexual exploitation of boys with members of the public, including parents, teachers, and charities working in education and leadership confidence for young children and teenagers. 

Gender norms and stereotypes that dictate how boys should behave can have devastating consequences in cases of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Research from ECPAT’s Global Boys Initiative 10-country study has found that harmful gender norms not only discourage boys from opening up and seeking help, but also impact the quality of support services available. 

“The parents and teachers agreed that in order to promote gender equality, we need to work towards challenging gender norms to ensure that boys’ needs are addressed too.” 

~Zahra Beg, Research Associate at ECPAT International 

By creating a space for conversations on a severely underreported and unexplored issue, members of the public were able to develop an understanding of how transforming harmful gender norms and attitudes can facilitate the broader fight against sexual and gender-based violence. 




At the 2016 Global Survivors Forum organised by ECPAT International, male survivor-advocates of sexual exploitation explained that services for boys were extremely rare, and even where services may include boys in their work, there is limited focus on addressing the specific characteristics, experiences and supports required by boys. 

In 2019 to delve into this, ECPAT co-authored an academic paper that looked at the global situation of sexual exploitation of boys. It showed that despite a growing global awareness that boys do experience sexual exploitation, and at greater rates than previously recognised, there is limited research available to fully tell this story. 

As the programmatic responses to identify and meet the particular needs of boys are scarce, ECPAT International launched the Global Initiative to explore the sexual exploitation of boys which activates our global network of member organisations in a range of research and response activities. 

Learn more about the Global Boys Initiative here.