Police search for lost parents of China's stolen children
New website aims to return child victims of trafficking to their homes
Friday 30 October 2009
They gaze out at the camera with every variety of human expression – fear, hope, doubt, bafflement, dread. Some are asleep. One gapes with huge eyes. Some of the tiniest manage a sunny smile. But in truth, these children have little to smile about. What binds them together is that all of them were whisked away from their homes by criminal gangs and sold to families desperate enough to buy a child because they either want a son or are unable to have a child themselves.
A newly launched Chinese police website is aimed at reuniting scores of children found during a recent police crackdown on the trade.
"It's the first time the Ministry of Public Security has published data about children whose parents couldn't be found through the national DNA database," lawyer Zhang Zhiwei, who volunteers with a non-governmental organisation called Baby Come Home, told the China Daily newspaper.
The latest police campaign, prompted by widespread anger at poor enforcement of often lax trafficking laws, has rescued more than 2,000 missing children since 9 April.
The ministry hopes the website, called "Babies Looking for Home", will help them track down the relatives of some 60 rescued children they have yet to reunite with their families.
The main impetus behind the trade is China's traditional preference for male children. But girls and women are also seized, partly to feed the demand of unmarried sons for brides, but also to work as labourers. Some children are snatched to serve as props for beggars, while women are kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Some poor rural families sell their girls so they can try for a boy, getting around the one -child policy.
The ministry reports that between 30,000 and 60,000 children are reported missing in China every year, but it is impossible to know with any certainty how many of those are caught up in trafficking. The national database only has records of around 30,000 in total.
Babies are not the only victims: older children are also taken. Some boys are sold to work in illegal brick kilns in the Chinese heartland. Many of the hundreds rescued in the past two years were still wearing their school uniforms at the time.
The database has plenty of information about the children – DNA provided by the children's parents is shared among the 236 laboratories in China that are equipped to test it. Any children whom the authorities suspect of having been abducted, or children whose history is unclear, are also tested.
Last week, 42 suspected traffickers were picked up for allegedly selling 52 children in the north of China.
But despite the best efforts of police, reuniting the children can be difficult: often they do not know where theycome from, or the names of their parents, and in many cases the children have formed bonds with their new parents, further complicating the task of reuniting them with their families. But the website is a first step.
Tang Weihua, a mother who lost her five-year-old son in 1999, told local media, "Even if I can't find my boy's photo on the website today, it's a blessing for desperate parents like us who have nearly lost hope."
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nelson Bunker Hunt dead: Former world’s richest man dies in 'modest circumstances' in US after losing his fortune
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...
£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...
£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...