photo from xinhua http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-10/04/content_2050907.htm
Looks like September was a bad month for baby smugglers. Most recently, two people were sentenced to death yesterday by a court in Fujian province for the abduction and sale of 46 baby boys, according to Shanghai Daily. The two, along with 11 others involved, sold the babies (all aged 1 year or younger) for up to $6,000 a child.
The case follows closely the September 19 life sentencing of another ring leader, Li Wangshao, a 44 year old woman sentenced by a court in Shanghai for the sale of 21 babies. Leading a gang of 16 others, Li kidnapped the children from Yunnan province for sale in Beijing, Jiangsu, and Shandong provinces.
Babies for sale is nothing new in China, a country where boys are often heavily preferred over girls. Those limited by the one-child policy, upon having a girl, may turn to the black market to procure a son.
The arrests have been part of an ongoing campaign initiated in April 2009 to crack down on human trafficking in China. According to Xinhua, the campaign has rounded up almost 2,400 trafficking gangs, a substantial increase from last November’s figure of 982. 13,500 trafficking cases have been handled, and a further 15,000-odd suspects have been given lighter penalties, resulting in what looks like a grand total of around 30,000 perpetrators. Not bad for a government initiative.
Even more importantly, since April over 10,000 women and almost 6,000 children have been freed. In order to find where these children belong, the police have established a DNA database to collect samples from parents of missing children, rescued children, homeless children, and those in social welfare institutions. Coupled with their found babies website, these efforts hope to put as many babies back with their rightful families.
Figures for how many children go missing in China every year remain elusive and vary widely (from hundreds to tens-of-thousands.) Six thousand looks like a good start, but the DNA database alone holds over 34,000 samples from parents reporting lost children. An effort to lock down more exact figures for missing children might be an important step for the future of this process.