Image via Morning Tears.
Writing at the Global Mail, Gary Jones and Palani Mohan highlight the heartbreaking plight of the children of executed Chinese criminals. Not recognised as ‘orphans’ by the government and denied state support, many are doomed to be homeless.
“These are the children nobody wants,” says Koen Sevenants, the Belgian founder of non-governmental organisation Morning Tears that supports the welfare of such children in China. Sevenants’ young dependents include the children of murderers, gangsters, rapists and drug smugglers. A substantial proportion are the progeny of violent homes. “Very often relatives don’t want them. In cases of murder resulting from domestic abuse, the father’s family don’t want them because they see the mother in the children. The mother’s family see the father.”
In 2008 there were 600,000 children of convicts in China, according to the Ministry of Justice’s most recent statistics. Many of those are left without guardians or homes, and are forced to beg or steal to survive. Morning Tears estimates that the child of a convict is six times more likely to go to prison than other kids.
Despite the woeful state of affairs at present, matters do seem to be improving:
[Sevenants] has been employed as a consultant to the Chinese government in the upgrade of child-protection laws and procedures, and Morning Tears and local authorities collaborate. The Ai Tong Yuan Coming Home Project, for instance, is jointly operated by Morning Tears and the state-run Zhengzhou Children Protection Centre. The centre is a currently a sanctuary to 44 children of convicts and the executed.
“I am one of these children,” says bespectacled Ai Tong Yuan Director Kou Wei, 35, whose mother killed her violent father in 1996, while she was studying English at university in Xian. “They feel safe with me. It’s difficult to put into the words, but I strongly believe that the children understand me.”