Hundreds of parents set to the streets on April 15th in a peaceful march, begging for help in finding their missing children. Originally reported by the New Express (translated by Danwei), the parents claim that about 1,000 children have gone missing from the Dongguan area since 2007. At their wits end, they’ve set out to draw more attention to the apparent, widespread abduction problem.
Neither the New Express nor the Shanghai Daily piece on these families’ plights suggest a reason for the kidnappings, but according to the New York Times, many of the children are being sold off to other Chinese families desperate for a male heir. The children, most of whom are young boys are also suspected of being sold to buyers in Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
“Male heir” is probably one of the better outcome for these children, otherwise they often end up as indentured servants, for-hire beggars, or prostitutes. The lucky ones get sold to orphanages for adoption to wealthy foreigners.
The police at Wednesday’s march appeared sympathetic to the parents’ ordeal, escorting them peacefully down the street. According to a number of marchers however, the police and government have been mostly unhelpful in tracking down the missing children. In a case cited in the Shanghai Daily article, a child was located and brought to a local police station, but before his parent could claim him, an impersonator took the child as his own.
The Chinese government claims that total abductions number about 2,500 people per year including both women and children, but some non-profit organizations argue that the number might possibly be upwards of 100,000.
Either way, the number is too high. More attention needs to be paid to this issue both here in China and elsewhere in the world where human trafficking is an issue. Both buyers and sellers of other human beings need to be tracked down and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.