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.

Despite an apparent growing global awareness that boys do experience sexual exploitation, and at greater rates than previously recognised, there is not enough research available to fully tell this story. Without data, there is limited understanding of the scale and scope of sexual exploitation that takes place involving boys, how they came into these vulnerable situations and what their needs are in terms of prevention, protection and services.

Created by CIHRTeamSV (Principal Investigator: Dr. Christine Wekerle, McMaster University) with animation support from SciAni.


ECPAT response

As the programmatic responses to identify and meet the particular needs of boys are scarce and for certain countries non-existing, ECPAT International’s and our network of member organisations are embarking upon a Global Boys Initiative to explore the sexual exploitation of boys. This global research project will:

  • Consolidate and strengthen the evidence base of the sexual exploitation of boys globally
  • Identify appropriate prevention, protection and recovery framework that can effectively inform legislation, policy and programmes
  • Undertake an exhaustive literature review and targeted primary data collection of the sexual exploitation of boys in the different regions of the world, including lessons learnt and gaps in the responses to male survivors
  • Facilitate a mechanism for partnerships across sectors in order to develop a set of recommendations to improve legislation, policy and programmes relating to the prevention, protection and recovery of the sexual exploitation of boys
  • Engage policy influencers, practitioners, academics and funders to work together on building and collating evidence of the sexual exploitation of boys


ECPAT - progress boys initiative

  • Gender, rights and responsibilities
    Initiative partners co-authored a paper published in a special issue of the International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Methodological issues in measuring the sexual exploitation of boys
    With the aim of encouraging stronger evidence, in collaboration with the Global Boys Initiative, UNICEF Department of Data and Analytics led the development of a paper that examined the magnitude, causes, risk factors and consequences of the sexual exploitation of boys, and the ethical and methodological challenges that pervade research on this topic.
  • The sexual exploitation of boys in Thailand
    In 2019, the Thailand Institute of Justice funded ECPAT to run research activities in Thailand for the Global Boys Initiative. This project included a legislative analysis, a survey of frontline welfare workers in Thailand and interviews with a small sample of young people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. This report will be launched towards the end of 2020.


ECPAT - resourcesGender, Rights and Responsibilities: The Need for a Global Analysis of the Sexual Exploitation of Boys
Research on the Sexual Exploitation of Boys: Findings, ethical considerations and methodological challenges