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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs