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

Launch of the Global Boys Initiative: Boys In Belgium Report

Posted on Aug 1, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: 1 August 2022


BELGIUM—ECPAT’s latest report seeks to understand how comprehensive Belgium’s national legislation is in protecting children, particularly boys, from sexual exploitation.

In collaboration with ECPAT Belgium and as part of ECPAT International’s Global Boys Initiative, the Belgium Report is the sixth in a series of ten country reports that explores the underreported issue of the sexual exploitation of boys. The Global Boys Initiative aims to improve global knowledge and inform legislative efforts to protect boys and gender diverse children from sexual exploitation. 

This research was conducted in the form of a comprehensive analysis of the Belgian legal framework in relation to various crimes related to the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, with a focus on boys. The report identifies gaps in Belgium’s legislation and outlines recommendations for improvement. Key findings from the report include: 

  • Burden of proof
    In cases of sexual intercourse involving children aged 14 to 16, the burden of proof lies on the children themselves to prove their lack of consent. This can lead to revictimisation, and even deter them from reporting due to fear of reprisal or not being believed.  
  • Scope of CSAM
    While Belgian law criminalises child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) involving visual materials such as videos or images, a key oversight remains with regards to criminalising non-visual materials, such as those found in written and audio form. 
  • Lack of data
    There is no centralised database that provides disaggregated and comparable data of child victims of sexual exploitation—particularly by gender. Such information is crucial in better understanding the scope of the issue and how to effectively address it. 
  • Gaps in legislation
    Although Belgium’s national legislation criminalises the trafficking of children for sexual purposes, it does not prohibit the sale of children for sexual purposes, leaving children especially vulnerable in such situations. 

Read the summary here.
Read the full report 

For more information, please contact: 


About the Global Boys Initiative: 

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. 


About ECPAT International: 

ECPAT International is a global network of over 122 civil society organisations, in over 100 countries, working towards the vision of ending the sexual exploitation of children. With over 30 years of experience in engaging with and managing multi-stakeholder processes and alliances across national, regional and global levels; ECPAT works to end the sexual exploitation of children. 


About ECPAT Belgium: 

ECPAT Belgium was established in 1994 and is a coalition of more than 30 NGOs working on the issue of human rights, child rights and development. ECPAT Belgium specialises in the areas of combating child sex tourism and trafficking of children, assisting at-risk youth, increasing youth participation, and stemming demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of children.