A child is sexually abused when he or she is forced or persuaded to take part in sexual acts, with or without physical contact. This can also happen online. For example: touching, kissing, sexual intercourse, forcing the child to watch pornography, using vulgar language or showing the genitals.

Sometimes the child does not know or understand that he or she is being abused.

The person abusing the child can be an adult or a person under 18 years of age.

In Belgium, sexual acts with a person younger than 16 are always a forbidden by law, even if he/she agreed. Sexual intercourse with a person younger than 14 is always considered rape, even if he/she agreed to it.

Indecent assault or rape of a child is punished more severely than when the victim is an adult:

  • victim is an adult: 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment;
  • victim is between 10 and 16 years of age: 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment;
  • victim is younger than 10 years of age: 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment.

Producing, showing, distributing or selling child pornography can be punished with 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to € 10,000.

If you witness child abuse or suspect that a child is being abused, you can:

  • go to a Confidential CAN Centre (Vertrouwenscentrum Kindermishandeling);
  • call the free helpline 1712;
  • go to a family doctor;
  • file a complaint at a police station, even if you are not related to the child.

More information or help needed?

1712
Free telephone number for an answer to all questions regarding violence.
1712 (9-17h)
Family doctor
You can talk to a family doctor about almost every intimate issue. If necessary the family doctor can refer you to a specialised health professional. Find a family doctor in your neighbourhood:
Vertrouwenscentrum Antwerpen
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
03 230 41 90
Vertrouwenscentrum Brussel
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
02 477 60 60
Vertrouwenscentrum Limburg
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
011 27 46 72
Vertrouwenscentrum Mechelen
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
015 20 21 31
Vertrouwenscentrum Oost-Vlaanderen
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
09 216 73 30
Vertrouwenscentrum Turnhout
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
014 42 22 03
Vertrouwenscentrum Vlaams-Brabant
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
016 30 17 30
Vertrouwenscentrum West-Vlaanderen
Medical, psychological and social help in case of child abuse
0800 97 0 79, 050 34 57 57
Police
Assistance in a life threatening situation
101
More health professionals

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