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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                          


In this small, essentially private-enterprise economy, tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner followed by exports of marine products, citrus, cane sugar, bananas, and garments.

Major concerns continue to be the sizable trade deficit and unsustainable foreign debt equivalent to nearly 70% of GDP.

A key short-term objective remains the reduction of poverty with the help of international donors.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Belize

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Belize.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims


Local Crime Stoppers



Officials act against sexual exploitation by tourists

Jacqueline Godwin reporting, News-5 Channel-5 Belize, August 03, 2006

[accessed 6 April 2011]

JACQUELINE GODWIN, REPORTING - Hit me on the Hips is no new dance craze. The phrase refers to the latest practice of high school girls being text messaged on their cell phones. The reason? Sex with tourists. The interested visitor arrives in the country makes contact with a taxi driver who then sends the text message to the girl at school. As dramatized in this advertisement from Youth Enhancement Services the student then illness to leave class.

ANDREW GODOY - They get sick and leave school and would be picked up by these taxi drivers, and would be taken to whatever location. Sometimes right there, maybe in the vehicle to meet up with tourists, but it is sad and it is very disturbing. While the problem I guess is not big or not such a major problem that it is out of control as yet, I think that we do realize that it is a concern.”


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 23 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law establishes penalties for child prostitution, child pornography, child sexual exploitation, and indecent exhibition of a child. It defines a “child” as anyone younger than age 18. The law stipulates that the offense of child prostitution does not apply to persons exploiting 16- and 17-year-old children through exchanging sexual activity for remuneration, gifts, goods, food, or other benefits.

The legal age for consensual sex is 16, but prostitution is not legal under age 18. Sexual intercourse with a minor younger than age 14 is punishable by 12 years’ to life imprisonment. Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor age 14-16 is punishable by five to 10 years’ imprisonment.

There were anecdotal reports that boys and girls were exploited through child prostitution, including through the “sugar daddy” syndrome whereby older men provided money to minors, their families, or both for sexual relations. Similarly, there were reports of increasing exploitation of minors, often to meet the demand of foreign sex tourists in tourist-populated areas or where there were transient and seasonal workers. The law criminalizes the procurement or attempted procurement of “a person” younger than age 18 to engage in prostitution; an offender is liable to eight years’ imprisonment. The government did not effectively enforce laws prohibiting child sex trafficking.

The law establishes a penalty of two years’ imprisonment for persons convicted of publishing or offering for sale any obscene book, writing, or representation.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 22 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 187]

Government officials indicate that Belize has a reputation as being a destination for child sexual exploitation, with reports of children being trafficked in areas frequented by tourists or seasonal works, such as San Pedro, Punta Gorda, and Belize City. (3,14,16)   Girls from impoverished communities and LGBTI children are particularly vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and labor trafficking in Belize. (14,15,17,16)   In 2018, there were reports of girls in Punta Gorda being exploited by family members and made to engage in sexual relationships with American expats, who would reward the families financially. (3) Anecdotal reports also indicate that boys from Belize City and San Pedro were recruited to transport and sell drugs and firearms and commit murders as part of gang warfare. (3,7,12,15)

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2005

[accessed 22 January 2011]

[67] The Committee welcomes the adoption in 2003 of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act, which provides special protection for children, and the subsequent establishment of a special Task Force to give greater effect to the implementation of the Act, and notes the State party’s efforts to combat sexual exploitation of children, for instance, through the “Stamp Out Child Abuse” campaign. Notwithstanding these positive steps taken by the State party, the Committee is concerned about the sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and trafficking of children in Belize and draws attention to the existing risk factors, such as the growing tourism.

[68] The Committee also notes with concern that the sex offence legislation of the State party is discriminatory, leaving boys without equal legal protection from sexual assault and abuse. Furthermore, the reported cases of the so‑called “sugar daddies”, adult men having sexual liaison with girls and providing both girls and their families with monetary and material benefits in exchange for sex, give rise to serious concerns.

Child prostitution in Belize is no myth, says report

Jacqueline Godwin reporting, News-5 Channel-5 Belize, October 26, 2006

[accessed 6 April 2011]

In the news media we're always hearing rumours of child prostitution in Belize, but today a new study claims that sexual exploitation of children is not a myth.  “Children and adolescents under the age of eighteen from seventeen downwards are being paid to have sexual relations with adults. The majority, the overwhelming majority of cases were men but in a couple of the cases they were women.”

DIANNE HAYLOCK - How a four year old be commercially exploited sexually? Parent involvement. The child is wooed by an older man with sweets, food and all of those things and the mother eventually finds out and she continues, she allows it to continue to happen and she benefits financially from this man. This child actually ran away from home and the way the case came to the attention of the service providers is not because that was happening but the child ended up with an S.T.I.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action [DOC]

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – BELIZE – Early in 2001, UNICEF Belize wrote to the Minister of Human Development, Women and Civil Society encouraging the government to adhere to the Stockholm Declaration. At the time of publication, various Ministries were reviewing the Declaration.

Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children child prostitution and child pornography

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

[accessed 6 April 2011]

Belize ratifies Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the sale of children child prostitution and child pornography.

Status:  Ratification

Date of signature  09/06/2000

Date of receipt of instrument by the UN  12/01/2003

Date of entry into force  01/01/2004

Child Prostitution: A Growing Scourge

W. E. Gutman, The Panama News TEGUCIGALPA, Vol. 10, No. 7, April 17, 2004

[accessed 6 April 2011]

[accessed 5 November 2016]

[accessed 16 October 2017]

A REGION OUT OF CONTROL - Although comprehensive data regarding child prostitution in Belize are not available, sex tourism is being blamed on an increase in HIV/AIDS cases among minors and adults. Ambiguous statutes, slipshod investigations and short prison terms are turning Belize, which balks at signing the UN Protocol against the trafficking of children, into a burgeoning haven for pornography and child prostitution.

The Protection Project - Belize [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TRAFFICKING INFRASTRUCTURE - Throughout the Central American region, “machismo” attitudes are prevalent, and women are often viewed as sexual objects. Interfamily violence, the breakdown of families, and poverty push young people to leave their homes and communities to search for better lives.

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Many of the teenage girls and children trafficked into the country from neighboring Central American countries are forced to work in domestic service, as bar maids, and in prostitution.




Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS - The government's National Committee for Families and Children reported instances of minors engaged in prostitution with older male clientele, in some cases of their own volition, in others arranged by their family. The girls were typically of high-school age, but some as young as 12 were reported, and came from economically disadvantaged families in which their mothers also were victims of the same abuse. The girls often provided sexual favors to older men in exchange for clothing, jewelry, or school fees and books. In a limited number of cases, the government was not able to prosecute individuals for unlawful carnal knowledge because the victims or their families were reluctant to press charges.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 22 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Teenage girls, many of whom have migrated from neighboring Central American countries, are reported to work as domestic servants, barmaids and prostitutes. Belize is considered a transit and destination country for children trafficked for sexual exploitation. Girls are also trafficked internally for commercial exploitation and to work in pornography. The practice of selling female children to older men for sexual purposes has been reported to occur throughout the country.

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