Abuse and Sex Trafficking

Belize has been in constant turmoil in the past years. These problems have continued to create an unsafe environment for the citizens of modern day Belize. Located in Central America, Belize violates Article 5 of the (UNDHR) which states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (United Nations).  Due to the absence of any laws or regulations prohibiting human and sexual trafficking, extreme poverty, and the abuse of power Belize violates Article 5 of the UNDHR through police brutality, human trafficking and child sexual abuse, and domestic violence. The absence of any laws along with the many highly impoverished areas of Belize result in violations of the United Nations Article 5. The Belizean government fails to regulate basic human rights for their citizens such as human trafficking and child sexual abuse. Prior to passing laws in 2013, Belize had no laws prohibiting human trafficking. The absence of these laws affected many families of Belize, as it was seen as normal for trafficking to take place. In most, if not all of these cases, people were coerced into sexual activity. However, in February of 2013, the Belizean government enacted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act in an effort to assist victims of human trafficking to get justice (United States, Congress, House, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons).

The law imposes penalties on perpetrators that commit heinous acts such as abuse and sex trafficking. Child sexual abuse, specifically, the facilitation of minors in sexual acts, was a common form of income for many impoverished families in Belize. Previously, these acts were not illegal and very much encouraged. A second law, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation Children (Prohibition) Act of 2013 protects Belizean children from sexual exploitation (United States, Congress, House, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons). The additional law criminalizes traffickers and allows victims to live in peace. However, before the laws, Belize took no steps to improve the consequences and impact that human trafficking had on the country, leaving victims exposed to ongoing danger and continued cycles of poverty and injustice. The abuse of power within the borders of Belize is a major issue. Although the government struggles to comprehend the idea of excessive power, many citizens fight for more power within their community. The misapplication of power causes many violations such as, police brutality and domestic violence. Abuse of Power Connected to Police Brutality Belize has a struggling economy which affects most of the population. The human rights violations are primarily rooted in low-income, impoverished areas where many people are forced to work under desperate conditions. For instance, in Belize, the primary economic resource is its farmable land (Shields 25).

The Belizean economy has an insufficient job market, where many people are not given the opportunity to maintain a job in which they are successful. As of 2013, the population below poverty line was, ‘41% (2013 est.) (‘Belize’). Parents encourage their young children, specifically girls, to prostitute themselves in return for money and gifts. A large number of these girls do not have access to adequate schooling in large part because of their low socioeconomic status. In Belize, the average literacy percent is, ‘… 77 percent—76 percent for men and 77 percent for women” (Issitt 14). For many girls, an education is only attainable if it can be funded. Tuition money, therefore, is frequently exchanged for sexual favors. A young girl’s decision to offer sexual favors to older men is mainly a means of earning money for her family. For example, parents encourage their young children to make money for their family by creating their own jobs. Young citizens of Belize begin to work at very young ages, which does not give them the same opportunity that many other children in other countries have. As a comparison, only 135 thousand of Belizean citizens receive formal education, while most of them just obtain a primary education (‘Belize’s Workforce’). This can have a negative impact on many young people, due to the fact that their parents encourage them to miss out on their childhood, and begin making an income for their families.

Belize consistently violates Article 5 of the UDHR through police brutality, human trafficking and forced child sexual abuse, and domestic violence. The abuse that police inflict on innocent citizens creates a major issue surrounding the society of Belize. The violation of Article 5 is imbedded in police abuse. Police torture is primarily caused by the abuse of power in the Belizean government and society. The issue of police brutality affects most of Belize’s population. In extent, there were 217 new complaints of police abuse in 2015 (Rentas). One specific example is Edwin Ixpatac, a thirty year old man who was brutally beat to death by cruel police. The brutal beating was a major violation of Belize’s human rights, and his murder significantly emphasizes the violation of human rights. Ixapatac’s death will always represent the extremes of police brutality. Another prime example of the effect of police brutality is the unnamed female citizen being cruelly abused. Additionally, there is a video which exposes the inhuman treatment towards the woman.

The media exposes the issues of police brutality in Belize, and highlights the significant violation of Human trafficking and child sexual abuse is a major violation of international human rights laws in Belize. Child sexual abuse is a major problem in the third-world country. For instance, many children are coerced into prostitution. Although prostitution is a main source of income for many of Belizean citizens, the problem of sexual exploitation involves the children. In many cases, a child is forcibly convinced to sell sexual favors for ‘prizes’ and money (‘Realizing Children’s’). Many parents in Belize force their children into prostitution to receive gifts such as money and school fees. Throughout the country of Belize the act of sex trafficking is not uncommon. Sexual coercion is defined as, “…the act of being physically, psychologically, financially or otherwise forced or tricked into engaging in sexual activity; victims are most commonly women and children” (‘Sexual Coercion’).

The act of sex trafficking, or human trafficking often occurs in nightclubs, bars, and brothels. This is an extreme violation of Article 5 that disrupts Belizean society by not enacting laws against the inexcusable behavior. Child prostitution is a regular occurrence in Belizean society, in fact, “30% of prostitutes are between the ages of 13 and 18, and belong to economically disadvantaged families. These young girls offer sexual favors to older people for jewelry, books, clothes, or their school fees” (‘Realizing Children’s’). Additionally, just in Belize alone, there were 17 cases of trafficking, 9 of them being female minors (United States, Congress, House, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons). Based on the U.S. Department’s Report in 2017 for trafficking offenses, Belize has been named the worst country in Central America, and has become a tier 3 on the scale (‘Belize at Tier’). There have been many reports on sexual trafficking in Belize and the violation the victim’s experience, however one of the most abominable experiences of the violation is a 14 year old girl being captured and held in servitude for five months. The young girl was repeatedly sexually abused and beat, but her captor never recieved a sentence to serve in jail, and was only fined for his crimes (United States, Congress, House, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons).

Despite the two laws put in place in 2013 in an effort to prevent coerced prostitution of a child younger than eighteen, the regulations do not protect sixteen and seventeen year olds. Domestic violence has a major effect on the society of Belize. The basic human right to live comfortably with no fear of violence and abuse is nonexistent in the Belizean society. Domestic abuse is culturally and socially tolerated. For example, within Belize’s borders, this specific type of violence is prominent. Statistics explain that, ‘Of the total number of reported cases countrywide, 88% are inflicted by men on women’ (Enriquez). Power plays a primary role in the societal standards of Belize. For example, men are preferred in society, and the abuse of power within Belize is renowned. Additionally, the power dynamic in Belize also has a negative impact on the rights of children. The abuse is habitual in this society, with 159 cases of domestic violence just in 2011 (United States, Congress, House). The outstanding number of reports of abuse is abnormal and exhibits the violations.

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Abuse and sex trafficking. (2022, Jun 28). Retrieved August 10, 2022 , from

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