Politics

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Kidnapped Boy Returns Home After DNA Match

July 13, 2009 11:00 AM
by Shannon Firth
After a 10-year absence, parents in China’s Yunnan province were reunited with their kidnapped son in early July. Still, many parents argue that local police and the government aren’t doing enough to help locate missing children and prevent child abductions.

Child Abductions in China

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Following a tip, police accompanied the child’s father, whose last name is Liu, to a village in Dehua county in China’s Fuujian Province.

After so much time had passed, the father did not recognize the 12-year-old boy he met. However, after comparing a blood sample with DNA from the government database, their relationship was confirmed. According to Xinhua news, this case represents the first successful reunion using China’s new DNA database, established in May.

As the boy is already attending school, Pu Jun, an anti-abduction officer, told Xinhua news, “The farmers who bought him will come to Kunming to discuss how to raise the child in the future.”

Stories like this are rare in China. 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.

According to UPI, one parent told the Chinese media, “The village authorities actually knew that we bought the child, but they decided to let it pass out of sympathy.”

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 Dungoung 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, local police are “too embarrassed” by the volume of cases to inform their superiors.

Another parent, a member of a group of 20 parents known as the “Alliance of Child Seekers” told UPI, police are overly concerned with their “record of performance.” In some cases, they have refused outright to open files for kidnapped children.

Among the “Allliance of Child Seekers,” parents who are also shopkeepers have transformed their storefronts to help their cause. In place of the original name, signs now read, for example, “Seeking My Child” and large photos plaster the windows, reported UPI.

One mother whose child was kidnapped two years ago, Deng Huidong, travels through China passing out flyers with picture of her child. She and a network of other parents petition authorities to establish laws and exact penalties for people who buy stolen children.

Deng told Reuters, “My heart is bleeding. Everytime I see a child, it reminds me of my son and I wonder whether I will see him again.”

Background: DNA Centers and China’s One-Child Policy

In May, China built over 200 DNA centers to process and store genetic material to help stop child trafficking. At the time 43 centers had already been established, reported the BBC.

According to The Associated Press, which cited a government ministry’s Web site, the DNA databases will store samples of DNA from parents whose children have been kidnapped. Centers will also obtain samples from allegedly abducted children, as well as from “vagrant children with an unclear history.”

China’s rigid one-child policy of birth control has compounded the nation’s child trafficking problem, reported the BBC. Due to cultural preferences, boys are at greater risk of being abducted.

However, the policy has been even more dangerous for baby girls, who have been killed, aborted or abandoned in increasing numbers since it took effect more than a quarter-century ago, Reuters reported.

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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