According to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, 77 children have been rescued from human trafficking gangs operating within the country. An additional 310 people suspected of the child trafficking have been taken into custody.
The raid that led to the arrests took place Wednesday morning, says the state-run news agency, Xinhua. About 7,000 police officers from 14 provinces took part in the operation.
The information that led to the successful bust came from police in the province of Shnadong who discovered that two gangs were buying babies born in Yunnan, Guangxi and Shanxi and selling them in Shandong. The operations of two other gangs in Guizhou Province were later discovered.
According to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2011, “there continue to be reports that some Chinese children are forced into prostitution, and various forms of forced labor, including begging, stealing, and work in brick kilns and factories.”
Child trafficking is illegal under the auspices of international human rights law. Many countries have adopted their own laws banning the practice, which tends to lead to the exploitation and abuse of children, as well as obstruct the realization of their other rights such as health and education.
The United Nations (UN) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (attached to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime) prohibits child trafficking. Both the International Labour Organization's Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibit the practice, too.
Recent times have seen China taking a harder stance against traffickers. Last year alone, 8,660 trafficked children were rescued from 3,195 trafficking rings.
According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “Both domestically and internationally, trafficking in children is on the rise. Demand for illegal adoptions, marriages, or sex workers drive this exploitation.”
Previous reports say that baby boys may fetch a price of 50,000 yuan, while baby girls may fetch a price of 30,000 yuan—about $7,840 and $4,704 in Canadian dollars, respectively.
UNICEF’s child protection activities in China include working with authorities on best practices for responding to instances of child trafficking. Better domestic laws to protect children are also recommended.
According to estimates by the International Labour Organization, as many as 1.2 million children are victims of human trafficking.