News / Asia

Harsh Sentence Provides Little Comfort in China Human Trafficking Scandal

FILE - Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician involved in baby trafficking, stands trial in Weinan Intermediate People's Court in Weinan, Shaanxi province.
FILE - Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician involved in baby trafficking, stands trial in Weinan Intermediate People's Court in Weinan, Shaanxi province.
VOA News
Chinese authorities have handed down a harsh sentence in the country's latest human trafficking scandal, but it is of little comfort to the hundreds of thousands who have lost their children over the years.

Five years ago, human traffickers drugged Wu Xinghu and his wife while they slept in their home in China’s Northern province of Shaanxi. When the couple awoke, their newborn, Jiacheng, was missing.

Human trafficking, especially involving children, is a long-standing problem in China. Statistics on the crime are scant, but analysts estimate at least 200,000 children are lost every year to trafficking. Few are later recovered.

Wu said he is not convinced the situation will get any better for parents like him. “People are, in fact, indifferent to these children's stories,” he said. “Many are looking in, but nobody takes action.”

China’s courts are taking some action, though for some, it may not be enough.

In a case unrelated to the disappearance of Wu Xinghu's child, former obstetrician Zhang Shuxia in Shaanxi province, was given a suspended death sentence Tuesday for trafficking infants under her care. Her sentence ends a trial that deeply touched the public in China.

History of such crimes

According to the court, Zhang sold seven babies to traffickers when she was a doctor. She received $3,300 for a female newborn or $7,700 for a male, the court said. She would deceive parents into thinking their children had died, or were gravely ill. Of the seven, one child died and was abandoned in a garbage ditch by the trafficker whom Zhang had sold the baby to. The other six were safely returned to their families after Zhang was arrested.

The court was not able to ascertain responsibility for the death of the child.

Throughout the trial, which started last August, many in China called for the courts to give Zhang the harshest sentence because, as a maternity doctor, she had special responsibilities to protect her patients.
“In her capacity as medical personnel, the defendant Zhang Shuxia used her diagnostic knowledge to fabricate incurable diseases and lie about body deformities to traffic new born babies,” said the court.

Criminal lawyer Tang Hongxin said that Zhang's verdict shows that courts in China are exercising increasing pressure regarding crimes against women and children.
“The conclusion of this case is a deliberate show of strength to act as a warning for other offenders involved in similar crimes,” he said.

But as the verdict was announced on Tuesday, some reacted with disappointment. In China, a suspended death sentence can be commuted to life in prison or even 15 or 20 years if the prisoner does not commit crimes during the first two years of imprisonment.

“What is the reason for the suspended sentence,” wrote a lawyer surnamed Zhang on his microblog account. “They should execute the death penalty immediately.”
Enforcing ethics

Shi Pu, a professor of finance, wrote on his twitter-like Weibo account that there are two professions where chaos is not allowed.
“One is doctors who cure and save, the other is professors who teach and educate,” he wrote on Tuesday. "If you violate the profession's ethics, then this society loses all cleanness."

For some whose children have long disappeared to traffickers, a trial will not solve the systemic problems of people profiting from the sale of babies in the countryside.
“People at the hospital had to know about it, they all use their position of power to sell babies,” said Wu. He said what happened in Zhang's hospital is not unusual, and it often entails a network of institutional protection.
“She was a scapegoat when the case became too big to be covered up,” he said.
According to Chinese media, five local officials have been fired following the human trafficking scandal, including the hospital's chief and the head of the local health department.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs