Shi Moulan (pseudonym), a 69-year-old woman in Nantong, Jiangsu province, was caught transporting five girls from Jiangyin to Qidong with the intent to sell them for 12,000 yuan.
Shi was on the nation’s wanted list from 2000 until her arrest in 2015. On September 21, Shi was sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison and ordered to pay 30,000 yuan.
On September 17, a 6-year-old girl Li Jia (pseudonym) was playing outside home in Shenzhen. Her parents later found she was missing and reporter her to the police, who learned the girl was kidnapped by a man in a black jacket.
Li Jia was lucky to be found in a hotel in Dongguan, and police arrested the man who abducted her.
Thousands more children are taken away by human traffickers and never return.
According to the Shenzhen Procuratorate, the city has had 14 cases involving 21 missing children since 2014.
In Anhui, Shandong and many other provinces, lone children are kidnapped by strangers. More recently, children are being stolen directly out of the hands of their caretakers by gangs.
In Jining, Shandong province, a grandmother took her 3 year-old grandchild for a walk in the community garden. Four strangers suddenly rushed to the child and puller her away. Residents heard the grandmother shouting and helped to chase down and detain the four until police could arrive.
Stealing the Future
Human traffickers used to lure children with toys or candy to get them to cooperate without any noise. Occasionally they would threaten the children.
In the last year, their tactics have become much more aggressive.
A recent article on News.163.com summarized several stories about the rise in child abducts by grabbing children out of their parents’ hands at malls, hospitals and supermarkets where there are big crowds.
Most traffickers focus on toddlers or infants who are too young to speak. Usually they have several members hold the child in turn so it is difficult to catch all of them and the child. Sometimes the kidnapper is a babysitter or housekeeper.
In the most audacious method, the traffickers grab the child and then shout for help, posing as the actual parent of the child. Many even attack the parents in an attempt to look like the actual guardian and confuse onlookers.
How to Protect Children
Guizhou Daily investigated the cases of several missing children and found that common targets are mothers who are still recovering from childbirth and unable to cope with the emergency.
Parents who always look at their phones are also a target, as those who are shopping or trying on clothes in a fitting room.
Yu Xiaobo, mom now in her 30s, published a series of comics that mentioned how sharing pictures of one’s children in WeChat Moments may put them in danger.
Yu said sharing videos and photos of children on WeChat can be dangerous, as strangers can see a user’s 10 most recent posts. Yu suggested that parents disable their location-based services and turn on their privacy settings to hide these posts.
People’s Daily Online also advised parents to closely monitor their children when outside as train them to memorize their home address, name and phone number, school and teacher, and any other emergency contacts.
Death Penalty or Not
Zunniu.cn interviewed a child trafficker in 2015 and the responses made readers shudder.
The man said that selling children was the fastest and easiest way to get money since couples “could just have another baby.” Every month he and his team stole and grabbed children and sent them to certain people. They kept a double blind system so they could not tell police where the children went in case they were caught.
For obedient children they used candy or toys. Less cooperative children were beaten until they passed out. The man said his partner threw one child in a river to die because he was too noisy and would attract attention.
Shenzhen News polled readers and asked whether child traffickers should be sentenced to death.
Deng Fei, a child rescue advocate, said the death penalty would not solve the problem. Deng said child trafficking is a massive system in China fed by a demand created by widespread infertility, government birth restrictions and other social phenomena.
The majority of mothers polled were in favor of the death penalty, as were 90 percent of online respondents.
Guo Xuanling, a lawyer, said China’s criminal code specifies a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years for child trafficking. Only traffickers who fatally injure a child may face the death penalty.
Guo said harsher punishments for the buyers of trafficked children may help to depress demand.
China’s criminal law allows a prison term of no more than three years for people convicted of purchasing women or children.