The Chinese government has kicked itself into gear finding the hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of children that go missing in China each year, thanks probably in part to the sudden media attention the issue garnered last April when hundreds of parents set to the streets in a peaceful march, begging local and national bureaus for help. As part of the government-sponsored efforts, they’ve set up this website: “Babies Looking for Home”, which cycles through pictures of 60 children who were kidnapped from their families and were recently recovered in police stings.
Altogether, police have netted about 2000 missing children in their raids of human trafficking operations. According to the Ottawa Citizen:
This is the first time the Ministry of Public Security has taken such an active role in solving a problem that is nothing short of a national tragedy. There are 30,000 to 60,000 children reported missing every year in China, according to the ministry. But people like Tang, who are involved in the search for these kids, say the number is closer to 200,000.
Many, if not most cases are not formally listed because local police are unwilling or unable to investigate crimes that usually involve crossing provincial borders. As well, many of the parents think police might be complicit in the kidnappings. It is a lucrative business that can net about $4,000 for each boy sold and about $1,000 per girl.
If they’re lucky, these children end up in houses that have no male heir (for boys) or foreign adoption agencies (for girls). More likely, they become household servants, sympathy beggars, child sex workers, and mine or brick kiln child laborers.
One of the reasons for the spike in human trafficking has been “increased wealth and freedom of movement,” according to the BBC (they probably should’ve clarified that to say “increased wealth disparity” since we don’t remember this being the case in any country with a robust middle class).
In any case, the government – perhaps gleaning that parents in a one-child country get especially frantic when their kids are stolen… one book salesman was accidentally mistaken for a kidnapper and killed by an overprotective mob in Zhejiang this week – has promised that this isn’t the end of its efforts to reunite families. They’ve also set up a national DNA database and vowed to continue the crackdown. In the meantime, let’s hope that every one of these 60 featured kids finally get back to their moms and dads.