Police in China have busted a human trafficking ring involving poor families who are selling their babies for as much as $7,800, a state-run newspaper reported Friday.
Police in Zoucheng city, of eastern China’s Shandong Province, discovered 17 infants that were sold by their parents last month. Authorities have been able to put 13 of them so far in the country’s welfare system, according to the state-run Global Times.
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"Working as migrant workers here, the families mainly come from poverty-stricken areas in Sichuan Province. Husbands went out to work and wives sold their babies to raise money," police officer Chen Qingwei, was quoted as saying.
Childless couples in China are allowed to adopt children from anyone, resulting in an underground baby trafficking market, the AFP reported.
Many scholars say the nation’s strict one-child policy is to blame for the thriving market, which has put a premium on males.
Boys can be sold for as much as 50,000 yuan ($7,888) while girls are sold at the lower price of 30,000 yuan ($4,733). Most buyers either want more children or intend to use them for slave labor, the AP reported.
China has a history of a poor human trafficking record. China is a source, transit, and destination country for people of all ages subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, according to the US State Department.
Police said in July that they had freed 89 children and arrested 369 suspects in a human trafficking crackdown launched this year after online reports of widespread abductions sparked public outrage.
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Despite the many instances where human trafficking is apparent in the country, China has been considered a government that does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.