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China Claims Success in Child Trafficking Crackdown

October 29, 2009 08:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
China announced that it found 2,000 kidnapped children in the last seven months as part of a campaign to combat the country’s booming child trafficking market.

China Launches Web Site to Identify Recovered Children

Chinese police claimed Tuesday that they have recovered 2,008 kidnapped children since April, when it launched a concerted campaign to address China’s widespread child trafficking problem. The announcement was made as part of a launch of the Ministry of Public Security's “Babies Looking for Home” Web site, which displays pictures of children who have yet to be reunited with their families.

Background: Child trafficking in China

Thousands of Chinese children, primarily those of poor farmers and migrant workers, are trafficked every year in China. The Chinese government estimates that the number of children is 10,000 a year, but the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons says it’s 20,000 and some estimates put it as high as 70,000. They are usually kidnapped, though many children are also purchased from desperate parents that can't afford to raise their children.

The child trafficking market thrives due in large part to China’s birth control policy, which allows most parents to have only one child. Boys are at a premium and can be sold for as much as $6,000, according to the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville. They are sought by parents of a girl that want a boy to carry on the family name, or by people that want to use the child for manual labor.

There is also a market for girls that can be sold as brides. The Times of London reports that some estimates put the number of children and young women abducted every year at 20,000.

The parents of kidnapped children have criticized Chinese authorities for not doing enough to combat kidnapping. According to Reuters, local police are often “indifferent” and “callous” when approached with a missing child case. This problem is made worse by a legal system that rarely punishes offenders.

More often, the Chinese media neglects child kidnapping altogether. As a result, many parents don’t realize the danger their children are in, and don’t supervise children as closely as they should.

A few years ago, frustrated with the lack of government support, parents created the Web site Baby Come Home, an online meeting place where they could post photos, share stories and get help finding their children.

Zheng Chunzhong, a baker in China’s Dongguan province, founded an advocacy group to combat child abduction as well as government apathy. Zheng, whose son was kidnapped in 2003, recently demonstrated outside a government building with 200 other parents. Zheng told Reuters that local police are “too embarrassed” by the volume of cases to inform their superiors. 

The Chinese government began a serious crackdown on kidnapping last spring. It created a DNA database to store the DNA of parents of kidnapped children, recovered children and “children of unknown identity who beg on the streets.”

Related Topic: Kidnapping clouds international adoption

In February 1999, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Sivagama and Nageshwar Rao’s son, Subash, was stolen, sold and sent abroad. His parents gave up the two huts they’d inherited, moved to a concrete one-room house and took their daughter out of school, all so they could pay investigators to find their son.

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