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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                         

Kingdom of Belgium

With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets.

On the positive side, the government succeeded in balancing its budget during the 2000-2008 period, and income distribution is relatively equal.

In 2009 Belgium is likely to have negative growth, growing unemployment, and a 3% budget deficit, stemming from the worldwide banking crisis.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Belgium

Belgium is a destination and transit country for men, women, and girls trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Women and girls are trafficked to Belgium for sexual exploitation primarily from Nigeria, Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and through Belgium to other European countries, such as the United Kingdom. Male victims are trafficked to Belgium for labor exploitation in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, horticulture, fruit farms, and construction sites.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Belgium.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated 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 Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include possible precursors of trafficking such as poverty. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  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


For Bruxelles : 02/511.64.64
For Wallonie : 04/232.40.30
For Flandre : 03/201.16.90
Country code: 32-



Squalid road that leads to Belgium - Children are being lured from poverty to horror in the heart of Europe

Andrew Osborne in Brussels, The Observer, 24 June 2001

[accessed 22 January 2011]

It may be the spiritual capital of the grand European project but, according to a damning new report, Brussels has also become the European centre for the trade in child prostitutes, who are being smuggled into Belgium to feed a growing demand.  Asylum claims from unaccompanied minors have almost trebled in six years, says the report from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), but it has also emerged that Belgium has become a 'favoured destination' for modern-day sex slaves - both boys and girls.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Belgium

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 May 2021]


Instances of forced and compulsory labor included men who were forced to work in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, horticulture, fruit farms, construction, cleaning businesses, and retail shops. Men and women were subjected to forced domestic service, including in the diplomatic community. Forced begging continued, particularly in the Romani community.


There are laws and policies to protect children from exploitation in the workplace. The government generally enforced these laws with adequate resources and inspections; such practices reportedly occurred mainly in restaurants. Persons found in violation of child labor laws could face penalties that were commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 8 July 2020]


Despite government efforts to combat the problem, Belgium remains a destination country for human trafficking, particularly for sexual exploitation and domestic labor; victims generally originate in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. In October 2019, police rescued 12 migrants in the back of a refrigerated truck in a highway parking area in northern Belgium. Officials began coordinating with British authorities to investigate a human trafficking ring, after British police found 39 bodies in the back of a truck crossing into the United Kingdom from Belgium.

Research based on case studies of victims of trafficking in human beings in 3 EU Member States, i.e. Belgium, Italy and The Netherlands [PDF]

Commission of the European Communities, DG Justice & Home Affairs, Hippokrates JAI/2001/HIP/023

Bruno Moens, Country Report, Belgium

Isabella Orfano,, Country Report, Italy

Ruth Hopkins and Jan Nijboer. Country Report, The Netherlands

[accessed 22 January 2011]

[accessed 28 May 2017]

[page 397]  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - This project was carried out in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands concerning trafficking for the purposes of sexual and/or labour exploitation in countries other than the origin as well as victims of smuggling. The outset of the project was: to identify the practices and mechanisms of transnational crime related to trafficking, to contribute towards recommendations policy and to defines durable solutions for preventing and combating THB.

General recommendations are provided in 14 clusters. However, in each country report, the researchers offer an assessment of national laws and policies on THB as well as their assistance programs.

National Projects - Studies

[access date unavailable]

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF UNACCOMPANIED MINORS VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS [ed. Note: DE PAUW, H., Brussels, Child Focus, April 2002, 108 p.] - A first study published by Child Focus concerns the disappearance of unaccompanied minors and minors who are victims of trafficking in human beings. Child Focus has observed in effect that there are many questions and uncertainties in the field with regard to this problem. The disappearance of these young people is extremely worrying as these victims do not have anyone in Belgium to whom they can turn to when they find themselves in difficulties. These youngsters do not understand the language, are in a country that they barely know and often are also seriously traumatised by what they experienced on their journey to Belgium. Ideal “prey” to fall (again) into the hands of traffickers and smugglers of human beings.

Sex Trafficking In Belgium, April 2003

[accessed 22 January 2011]

The trafficking of adults and minors for sexual exploitation has been of growing concern to Belgium for the past decade and has become a priority for the police and the judiciary alike.

WHY BELGIUM? - “Most of those destined for prostitution are young women between the ages of 21 and 30 and teenage girls under the age of 18.”  According to a report by the Centre for Equal Opportunities, out of about 150 who testified as having escaped some form of exploitation in Belgium, 88 had been forced into prostitution. The reported victims were from Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Liberia, Nigeria, Sudan, China and Thailand.

NADIA'S STORY - Nadia has been working as a prostitute on Avenue Louise for three months. She was brought to Belgium by a family friend who had promised her bar work which would pay more than in her native Ukraine.  Upon her arrival, she was dropped off at a brothel on the French-Belgian border where, at one stage, she had 30 clients a day and was not let out for periods of up to four weeks. She ‘escaped'.  “The landlady said I owed her money to stay there so I had to work. The police don't mind brothels but they don't know what goes on in them. You're freer on the streets, it's better.”

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 7 June 2002

[accessed 22 January 2011]

[27] The Committee reiterates its satisfaction for the numerous measures taken by the State party to combat the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. It is nevertheless concerned that trafficking for the purposes of sexual or other exploitation is still a problem.

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 22 January 2011]

The Protection Project - Belgium [DOC]

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

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Women and children are trafficked to Belgium primarily for sexual exploitation. Trafficking for other forms of forced labor also exists. Victims of trafficking in Belgium are promised jobs in the catering and hotel industry or jobs as au pairs, dancers, or in prostitution. Some victims are promised marriage or the opportunity to study in Belgium Nigerian men, Chinese men and women, and Ecuadorian men and women are trafficked to Belgium for various forms of forced labor or economic exploitation.

Belgian and foreign children are sexually exploited in Belgium.  Foreign minors are exploited in sweatshops, Turkish bakeries, and Moroccan shops. They are also used as domestic servants in diplomats’ homes. Sports agents exploit young soccer players from Africa and South America.  Reportedly, gangs organize begging rings involving minors or people with disabilities. Such gangs operate in large cities and involve mostly adults or children from Romania.


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 17 March 2019]

[accessed 24 June 2019]


Forced and compulsory labor included male victims forced to work in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, agriculture, construction, cleaning, and retail sites. Foreign victims were subjected to forced domestic service. Forced begging continued, particularly in the Romani community.

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 – Trafficking victims continued to come primarily from sub-Saharan Africa (particularly Nigeria), Central and Eastern Europe (particularly Albania and Bulgaria), and Asia (particularly China). Nigerian and Albanian victims usually were women between the ages of 21 and 30 trafficked for prostitution. Victims of sexual exploitation were increasingly women under age 18. Gangs that controlled the trade sometimes threatened victims with violence, including retribution against the victims' families in their home countries. Chinese victims often were young men trafficked for manual labor in restaurants and sweatshops.

There appeared to be a decreasing number of trafficking cases that were the work of organized gangs from Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Albania. While a growing number of victims came forward, this rarely led to the identification or capture of the traffickers. Traffickers not only moved their victims frequently from city to city within the country, but also used the European Union's open borders to move victims from country to country. Freedom of movement also made it easy for traffickers to evade arrest if one of their victims went to the authorities.

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