London ¬ Sunday 11 March 2012
Thousands of Chinese trafficking victims rescued by police
Police freed more than 24,000 abducted women and children across the country as nearly 3,200 gangs were broken up
Associated Press in Beijing
A montage of images of children, mostly boys, who are thought to have been stolen by trafficking gangs in China (Rex Features)
Chinese police rescued more than 24,000 abducted women and children across the country in 2011, the Public Security Ministry said on Sunday.
Trafficking in women and children is a big problem in China, where traditional preference for male heirs and a strict one-child policy has driven a thriving market in baby boys, who fetch a considerably higher price than girls. Girls and women also are abducted and used as labourers or as brides for unwed sons.
A report from the ministry said police rescued 8,660 abducted children and 15,458 women in 2011 as nearly 3,200 human trafficking gangs were broken up.
It did not give any figures for the total number of women and children abducted last year. Exact numbers of victims are difficult to obtain as China's vast size, rural poverty and population of 1.3 billion mean many such cases never get reported beyond local areas.
The rescued children are usually put into orphanages while authorities try to reunite them with their families. In order to identify the rescued children, an "anti-abduction" DNA database has been set up to match missing children with their families.
"Public security organs across China will deepen the campaign against abductions to save more women and children and work hard to reduce the number of abduction and trafficking cases," the ministry said.
The report posted on the ministry's website said there were also cases of abductions to traffic women outside of China, saying police were sent to Angola, where they helped bust a gang trafficking Chinese women for prostitution.
Nineteen Chinese women were rescued and 16 suspects detained.
It also cited a case from July last year when police broke up a crime ring where the main suspects were Vietnamese abducting children in Guangxi and Guangdong provinces in southern China.
The ministry said that in addition to a hotline, an official microblog account has been opened to collect tips on missing cases.