In two raids this month, Chinese authorities rescued 89 children aged 10 days to four years. 369 suspects have been arrested. The raids are reminders that a black market in children remains alive and well in China, as the CBC says:
The busts highlighted China’s thriving black market in children — mostly involving buyers who want more children or those who want them as slave labour — that endures despite harsh penalties for traffickers, including death.
It was not clear from the reports posted Wednesday on the Ministry of Public Security website if sex abuse also might have been a motive. Calls to the ministry went unanswered.
On July 20, more than 2,600 police officers from fourteen provinces were deployed. China’s official news agency, Xinhua, reports that among the children rescued were 13 babies aged 10 days to four months in the city of Handan in Hebei Province in eastern China, with the majority being girls.
Earlier this month, another raid cross-border child trafficking operation in China’s southern provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi resulted in the rescue of eight children and the arrest of 39 suspects, mostly from Vietnam, says the New York Times. The rescued children have been sent to orphanages as their parents have not yet been found.
The New York Times quotes a “senior official” who said that criminal penalties for those arrested may not be that great unless the children had been abused. Some children have been stolen but, in other cases, children are sold by their parents:
“The cost of the crime of buying children is not great,” Liu Ancheng, deputy director of the ministry’s criminal investigation bureau, told the newspaper [the People's Daily, the newspaper of China's Communist Party]. He also blamed “the dreadful practice of buying and selling children in this country” on the traditional idea of the need for male offspring, especially in rural areas.
With urban families currently prohibited from having more than one child and rural families more than two, some families sell a female baby in order to try to have a boy.
The Global Post reports that authorities in China’s most populous province, Guangdong in southern China, have requested that families might be able to have two children in certain cases — namely, when one member of a couple is an only child, and has the “burden” of caring for six elderly adults (parents and two sets of grandparents). The one-child law has been blamed for creating a gender imbalance in Chinese society due to sex-specific abortions, female infanticide and parents putting up female babies for adoption.
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