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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More