Thursday, February 4, 2010

China: Boy Chained While Father Worked

Here's a sad testament to the child trafficking problem in China, as well as the difficulties of migrant workers:
Unlicenced rickshaw driver Chen Chuanliu told the Chinese wire service Xinhua News he chained his son Lao Lu to the post while he picked up customers because he feared kidnappers would steal the boy.

Chen's four year-old daughter was stolen earlier last month. His wife was unable to care for Lao Lu because she was "mentally disabled."

"I have to work to support my family," the 42-year-old told Xinhua News.

"I don't even have a picture of [my daughter] to use for a missing person and ... I cannot lose my son as well."

Shoppers saw the boy outside the Huaguan Shopping Mall near Liangxiang, 20km southwest of Beijing, before contacting authorities. Chen was ordered to remove the shackles.

The boy cannot be taken to a local nursery because the family is from another province and therefore does not qualify for state help.

Chen, who earns just $8.10 a day, said he could not afford childcare. He has also refused "many good offers" to put Lao Lu up for adoption.

"To chain him is better than losing him," Mr Chen said.


Wendy said...

How sad that this man has to go to such lengths, I can feel for his situation and under the circumstances wonder if I wouldn't do the same thing.
WHat is truly sad is the offers for adoption as well, it is something that rings true here with the homeless. No one should have to choose adoption just for the lack of finances.

A Chinese Dad said...

"The boy cannot be taken to a local nursery because the family is from another province and therefore does not qualify for state help."

What this means is that migrant workers don't have Beijing hukou (i.e., residence card). In China, if a child doesn't have local residence card, that child will not be able to go to school. Period. When s/he grows up, s/he can't get a job either without a hukou. A child gets his or her residence card from the place where his or her parents are registered. In this case, it would be the migrant parents' hometown. Also, with one-child-per-couple policy, each couple is allowed to have only one residence card issed to their first-born child. Any kids born after the first one to a couple in China will not be eligible for this almighty residence card or hukou, not to mention some steep fines. That's why some Chinese parents in the countryside do not want to register the birth of the first child for hukou if it is a girl. They hope to get a boy as their second child and then register him for the only hukou allocated to them.

It's unusual for a father to chain his toddler to a post while he goes away to work. I have seen a lot of migrant workers in China carrying their toddlers on their back (like giving their kid a piggy-back ride except that the kid is tied to their back with a big piece of cloth) while they work. Two summers ago when I was in China, I spent some days visiting an orphanage and researching some issues regarding abandoned babies. I was told that many migrant workers had to give up their babies and sometimes even young toddlers due to financial difficulty, but more so due to out-of-wedlock birth, which is not uncommon among migrant workers. They are lonely, away from home, and young migrant women just don't know much about birth control. Life for migrant workers is very hard.

mama d said...

There are actually a couple (OK, many more) layers to this story. The most played is the "chained due to trafficking concerns" angle. What wasn't clear to me until I read a few articles is that the father leaves the child chained there while he is elsewhere on his rickshaw. So, the child is completely alone and left to fend for himself for as long as dad is delivering.

Putting trafficking aside, that a father would be moved to make this decision for his son is a tragedy. As @A Chinese Dad points out, a many layered tragedy.