China Takes Hardline Stance against Perpetrators of Child Rights Violations

09/08/2011 - Chinese officials have released a new plan for ameliorating child welfare and dealing with chronic issues in children's rights and child protection.

The government of China has pledged to seriously crack down on child rape, abduction and trafficking over the next decade.

The promise and strategy for ensuring the rights and protection of children were laid down in a plan released by Chinese officials yesterday. Under the Outline for the Development of Chinese Children (2011-2020), the government will take concrete steps against criminal offenders that lure, coerce or force children into stealing, begging or prostitution.

Large numbers of children become victims of human trafficking every year in China and the rest of Asia. Last week, Chinese authorities from the Ministry of Public Security confirmed that 103 children were rescued when police busted two major human trafficking rings in the southern part of the country.  Since April 2009, 14,600 children and 42,800 women have been rescued in 39,000 human trafficking cases involving 4,885 criminal groups. While these numbers indicate a significant commitment by law enforcement officials in recent years, they also indicate the scale of the problem.

China is a signatory to United Nations (UN) plans for counter-trafficking. But among China’s newest national plans for child protection is the establishment of a mechanism that will prevent children from such violence and will enable the emergency rescue, treatment and psycho-social care for child victims of rape, abduction, trafficking and other abuses.

Another issue at hand concerns the girl-child. Sex-selective abortion is an indicator of the level of gender inequality existing in the country. China's culture, which sees parents preferring male heirs to females in order to carry on the bloodline and care for aging parents – in tandem with the help of modern technology and government policy  – has created a problematic demographic situation, where men outnumber women.

The preference for boys, in combination with China's one-child policy has led some parents to terminate pregnancies upon discovering the sex of the girl-foetus before birth. Trafficking in women, in addition to female infanticide, has also contributed to China's skewed sex ratio. At present, China's sex ratio is 119 males to 100 females, compared to 107 males to 100 females in most industrialized countries – a fact that has some experts questioning whether or not all Chinese men will be able to find a wife in the coming years, and what repercussions that might arise if they cannot.

There remains a need to protect the girl-child and her place in Chinese society, as well as to harshly crack down against those responsible for sex-selective abortion, as China plans to do. It aims to prohibit ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination that help facilitate female infanticide. It will also work to scale up the availability of family planning.

The government will also take steps to eliminate child labour. While it may be common for children under the age of 18 to do difficult or hazardous work, officials have expressly stated that “recruiting children under 16 is strictly prohibited, and employees aged 16 to 18 should not be overworked or engaged in dangerous operations.”

The plan also seeks to remedy gaps in social and economic opportunities between rural and urban children. Goals have been set to realize the subsistence, development, protection and participation of China's children, addressing issues in medical care, education, child welfare, society and legal protection.