Over 24,000 women, children freed in human-trafficking crackdown

POLICE IN China rescued over 24,000 kidnapped women and children nationwide last year, the country’s public security ministry told the annual parliament, the National People’s Congress, in an ongoing crackdown on human trafficking.

In all, police rescued 8,660 abducted children and 15,458 women in busts of 3,195 human trafficking gangs during 2011, the ministry said.

Girls who are kidnapped are often sold into prostitution and in one high-profile case last year, the police busted a gang that was trafficking women to Angola. In the raid, 19 women were rescued and 16 suspects were apprehended.

Human trafficking is a major problem in China, as the traditional preference for boys over girls, especially in rural areas, and the one-child policy of population control, has seen a rise in the number of boys kidnapped and sold, often to childless couples.

Girls and women also are abducted and used as labourers or as brides for unwed sons, because the one-child policy has seen a massive discrepancy in the birth ratio between the number of boys and girls.

In July last year, 89 children were rescued when police busted two major human-trafficking rings in south China, and the suspects were mostly Vietnamese, smuggling children from Vietnam into China.

The ministry also cited the ministry’s work in helping reunite children with their families, using new technology such as a DNA database for missing children.

The ministry has also opened up a Weibo microblog account to help gather intelligence on missing persons cases.

“The ministry reaffirmed its tough stance on trafficking and vowed sterner crackdowns against such crimes,” Xinhua News Agency said.

The ministry did not give any figures for the total number of women and children abducted last year.

Abductions and human trafficking have become serious public concerns after a string of revelations in past years, including a shocking 2007 scandal in which thousands were forced into slave labour in brickyards and mines across the nation.

The latest big case was on Friday, when police rescued 77 children and arrested 310 suspects after busting four child-trafficking rings, where gangs were buying infants in poor rural areas and selling them to big cities.

More than 7,000 police officers from 14 provinces, including Shandong, Guizhou, Henan, Shanxi, Yunnan and Guangxi, took part in a joint operation.

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