Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chinese Break Up Child Trafficking Gang

Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, reports on arrests for a child kidnapping gang in Hunan province:

A four-month investigation helped police rescue five kidnapped children and
apprehend 13 suspects in their abductions, the Yueyang Public Security Bureau
said Tuesday. All five, including one girl, are from migrant workers' families. The exact dates of all the rescues weren't given, but the final child was freed Jan. 10, police said.

The five were among several children aged two to three years who were kidnapped in broad daylight by motorcyclists in September, causing fear among local people, especially migrant workers with very young children. Police said they don't know exactly how many children were kidnapped.

The Yueyang police set up three special investigation teams headed by the public
security bureau director. The officers crossed seven provinces, including Sichuan, Hubei, Fujian and Yunnan, in the effort to rescue the children.

The BBC puts the story in the context of the larger problem of child trafficking in China:

Child trafficking is seen as a growing problem in China, despite government attempts to crack down on it. Facts and figures are not publicly available but there is evidence that abductions take place on a huge scale, says the BBC's Jill McGivering. One official estimate by the US government said between 10,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked within China every year, and that the vast majority are women and children.

The problem is exacerbated by strict birth control policies, which limit many couples to only one child. Some families want a boy - one of the children seized in Yueyang was abandoned when she was found to be a girl, the Beijing News said. Families may also buy trafficked women and children to use as extra labour and household servants.

Update: ShanghaiDaily reports recently on arrests in another child-trafficking ring:

Henan Province railway police caught 11 suspects of an alleged baby-trafficking ring after finding seven infants less than one month old taken onto a train. The seven infants were girls. They were saved by police at Zhengzhou Railway Station in Henan. The girls are now at a social welfare home in the city, Xinhua news agency reported today. Two more suspects are still at large, police said.

Police were suspicious of eight women with infants at the railway station on October 21, Xinhua said. Police couldn't understand their dialect so they stopped them for questioning.They soon confessed the infants were not their babies and they were taking them to Shandong Province for sale.


Wendy said...

I don't understand why the program is still open; when this happened in Vietnam it was closed. Guatamala closed for cohersion. Yet, we still have the nsn program in China. It makes no sense or does it--money talks.

malinda said...

Well, I'd say that the difference between Vietnam/Guatemala and China is that the trafficking in the first two was linked fairly clearly to international adoption. The trafficking cases in China are almost all related to illegal domestic adoption.

Of course, we do know from the Hunan scandal that some of those children were in fact placed internationally, and we do know that incentive programs still exist in some SWIs in China, and those children may be placed internationally.

I guess they're still waiting for the smoking gun link to IA . . . .

Wendy said...

I understand that Malinda, but I see the smoke. Incentives alone should do it, not to mention Hunan (there is no way it is isolated).
imo--these domestic situations may not be as prevelent if they make domestic adoption feasible for their citizens instead of taking the big "donations" from international adoption. I have to say "being in the know" about this is difficult--I have heard the stories from Chinese citizens who wish they had the money to adopt--they also know trafficking is cheaper.
Oh--more "smoke"--notice the SAME provinces swimming in baby referrals!

malinda said...

As usual, Wendy,we agree about more than we disagree about! But you know me, I LIKE hearing and sharing different opinions! So here's my points of minor disagreement.

I don't think we know how pervasive trafficking for IA is in China, nor do we know how prevalent domestic adoption is. China is just so opaque, and knowing a small part doesn't necessarily give one the whole picture.

I think that there are far fewer children available for any kind of adoption in China because there are far fewer abandonments in the face of increased prosperity, so I'd like to see IA end when domestic adoption can satisfy the need for families for abandoned children.

But is domestic adoption there yet?Yes, many in China are interested in domestic adoption,and the hard currency from foreign adopters make it more difficult for them to compete. But there is still considerable stigma associated with adoption, too, so I think we don't know yet whether there will be enough domestic adopters interested. Look at the Sichuan quake orphans, who are not available for IA -- there is difficulty placing even the NSN children. And preference for traffickers over legal domestic adoption might be about more than lower cost, it may be that the purchaser couldn't qualify for reasons of age, etc., that probably wouldn't change even if IA were stopped.

I'd like to see an end to all international adoption from China, (even SN, for reasons I'll set out below) but I don't know that we can make a convincing case that IA is driving child trafficking in China -- yet. I'm no more enamored of "the lie we love" than you are, but I'm not yet persuaded of the trafficking connection in China. I think IA will end, and probably in the next 3-7 years, because of fewer abandonments and more domestic adoption. And that will be a good thing.

I know SN adoption is usually exempt from concern because so many domestic and international adopters are looking for "healthy" kids and it is "healthy" kids who are trafficked. But I also worry that even having a SN program will still lead to a quest for hard currency, which may disadvantage domestic adopters in China even though most Chinese won't adopt SN kids -- remember the days of Russian adoption where ONLY special needs kids were available, so special needs were invented for the kids? I could easily see that happening in China.

Wendy said...

We are on the same page.
I also think nsn will end in the next five years, they seem on the road to it now. I do believe there are enough adopters in China, I think that they are stifled by regulations--ones that IA adopters do not have to deal with. Case in point, I know of two foster families that wanted to adopt their foster children. The reason they were declined--the children were SN! I know there is a stigma on SN children currently, and adoption in some areas; however, I see those passing as the elders pass.
The only think it seems we are disagreeing on is the connection of trafficking to IA--I believe that there are cases of direct connection, but for the most part it is one layer away allowing the IA program to continue. I also don't believe we should have to wait for the fire when the smoldering is already known.
I agree about the worries with SN only; we have already seen corruption when it comes to SN adoptions--the agencies that "find" the children for AP's and make the paperwork to CCAA happen. Also the agencies that let their "preferred" clients view lists ahead of everyone else (lessening with the shared list); however, if you allow agencies to assign children you will have issues like this.
I can see the "created" sn occuring; I think this technique has been used in the past for children that orphanages want to see adopted. Also, the broadening of what is a SN is a concern--it seems as it has already broadened. Years ago some of the "sn" children were a part of the regular referral program.

At least we share a common goal; it is always good to discuss the details though.

Lisa said...

OK I know we are all past this blog, but here's my thoughts:
Do you REALLY think that the attitude of the Chinese toward children who are adopted will change in 3-7 years? I think not, it will take much more time, and education. As Malinda rightly pointed out, they couldn't even get the EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS adopted. I recognize it is wonderful to be with your own culture. BUT I am more concerned that adoptions will close (for various OTHER reasons) and millions of children will sit in orphanages undetected / unnoticed.
As an aside, I would hate to say that it is common for IA children to have been part of trafficking without clear documentation of this. It sure could add a multitude of psychological problems for many children who are adopted abroad, and have these falsley labelled by our society as "children who were trafficked." They have enough to deal with!

Wendy said...

As we have seen from increased domestic adoption, lower numbers of abandonment, and increased wealth (ie--medical care) in China, there are not millions of children in Chinese orphanages. There is a continued need for sn adoption at this time due to cultural attitudes--not that our record is great; however, IF domestic families were allowed to adopt due to a better donation ratio and with the continued decrease in available children AND a serious effort to curtail trafficking then the program could easily end. It should end due to issues such as incentive programs and trafficking alone. Just because Hunan was the biggest (known) does not mean there are not others (as we have clear proof)and in all honesty, that should have been enough to shut it down at least until further in-depth and serious investigations were done.
As far as labeling--they are labeled, they have been labeled, and already deal with negative images of abandonment and the false labeling at this time that the Chinese abandon their children "all the time" and by the continuation of agencies and even families proclaiming the "overwhelming need" to adopt in China--as it was years ago, but not today. Our children do have a lot to deal with. Hopefully with education and the ending of corruption (no easy task) children in the future will NOT have to deal with this at all.

Lisa said...

1. Just to clarify my comment - "I am more concerned that adoptions will close (for various OTHER reasons) and millions of children will sit in orphanages undetected / unnoticed" doesn't mean that I have placed a number on the children in orphanages in China. My understanding is that the numbers we have are not accurate, so we can't know definitively how many children in China are without parents. We are on the same page that it would be preferable for these children to be adopted domestically, but it just is not happening as quickly as we'd like.
2. We know our children are labeled, I'd rather not add to this problem with any misinformation until all the facts are in (if they ever are available to us).