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China Child Slavery Not Limited to Brickyards

Posted by Author on June 20, 2007

by Karen Meirik, Radio Netherlands, Netherlands, 20-06-2007-

China was shocked by the recently televised images of weakened children and adults that were forced to work as slaves in Shanxi province brick yards. But this particular scandal, which even made it to state-run media, may just be the tip of the iceberg. All over China, children and young men are missing.

Last week, the police freed 568 people that worked as slaves in Henan en Shanxi provinces. Some of the liberated slaves are suffering from mental illness. 168 people were arrested in the case.

But this local success story does not solve China’s slavery problem. China’s increasing demand for building materials and fuel is causing a need for cheap labour in brick yards and often illegally operated coalmines. Previous investigations show that males around the age of fifteen are considered to be the most suitable to be forced into slavery. They are physically strong but can still easily be intimidated.

But it’s not only the brickyards and coalmines that make use of young slaves. Male babies are sold to childless couples. And it’s not males only either that are victimized. Young girls also are sold as domestic slaves, prostitutes or child brides.

Margaret Ward is a nurse with the ‘Xinxing Aid for Homeless Children in Baoji’. Many children that have escaped slave traders end up in this shelter in Central China.

“Recently we had an eleven year old boy who escaped from a brick yard. But many children are also forced to work in restaurant kitchens.”

According to Ms Ward the slave traders are specifically looking for children from rural areas.

“Their parents often work in the city, and the children are raised by family. Often they are neglected, they are fed only once a day and they watch a lot of television. They have a naïve perception of life in the big city and they are easily conned by slave traders.”Violence
The traders often find their victims at bus and train stations, but Ms Ward says that some kids are violently abducted. The price for a child slave is around 500 yuan (50 euro). One boy from Xinjiang in the Northwest of the country only remembers being hit over the head as a smelly cloth was pushed against his nose. He came to in a moving train somewhere in central China.

According to Ms Ward the children are forced to obey their owners.
“Sometimes boiling water is poured over their legs or they are being tied up. Also they are threatened that their families may get hurt. Since many of the children don’t have any id cards they’re afraid to go to the police.”

An article published in China Business News purportedly confirms the suspicion that the police are bribed by slave traders. Chinese Internet forums are calling for punishment of the involved officials.

But Beijing is also trying to sooth the unrest. Last week the ‘Internet Bureau’ called on Chinese news websites to remove ‘harmful information aimed at attacking the party.

original report from Radio Netherlands

One Response to “China Child Slavery Not Limited to Brickyards”

  1. Tintin said

    World will see the worst if China remains the same for 10 years let alone Tibet disappear without any support as the powerful people are money minded and China has money made out of innocent and torchering human. No news and views are to be broadcast and spoken as mother of money making devils will hurt. Go on that way for how long?? The guild!!!!!,the blood money will haunt you forever even in your next life. Its all wrong and sad that this is the situation because the World aloud them.

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