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19 August 2008

China's Stolen Children [More:]

I watched half of this documentary on HBO this evening. I turned it off because it is incredibly painful.

The man on the bottom right in the blue shirt is a human trafficker.
He even sold his youngest son when the child was six years old. He is pictured here with his oldest son, who he did not sell because he had too much money invested in school fees. To hear the oldest brother speak about his younger brother is heartbreaking. That he hated his father. That he misses his younger brother terribly. To hear the trafficker admit to selling his only son and admit to selling female teenagers, young twenty-something women, and children is unfathomable. He admits it as if he is selling animals or crops. He said it is very easy to find buyers. There are always buyers, it's the supply side that is difficult. He "doesn't deal with teenagers that much nowadays, he mostly sells young children."

There are other interviews with traffickers and one admits freely that he plants himself in a village and will watch a family for weeks. When the opportunity arises, he will abduct a young boy and sell him. Often the children will not crying for days on end, so they will have to bring them to a woman. This woman stranger then cares for and consoles the child until the child is calm, and then bring the calmed child to perspective buyers. "They accept the woman as their mom. They accept her, then we can sell him to anybody."

There are young couples that are unable to be married, therefore they do not have a birth permit. Without a birth permit you cannot be issued a birth certificate. You can have a child in China, in a hospital, and there will be absolutely no record of this human without a birth permit. This young couple contacted the above blue shirt trafficker to sell their baby infant girl. For what reasons I am not sure. The one child policy? Money? Their inability to be married?

You can see it on YouTube as well, if you can bear it.

Things like this make it hard to live in this world. I know, that sounds very dramatic and selfish, but it's what I feel at the moment.
It's hard to understand that human life is worth so much in some places and so little in others. When I was living in Indonesia, it seemed like there was always a constant stream of totally preventable accidents and problems involving dozens or hundreds of deaths: plane crashes, ferry sinkings, disease outbreaks. But people in power chose to use the time or money or whatever would be needed to prevent the disaster or solve the problem to benefit themselves, on an unbelievably epic level.

You know how we talk about Alaskan senator Ted Stevens here in the States as the classic example of "bringing home the bacon" for his constituents? Imagine if every politician was like that, from local cops up to the president, and that there was nothing you could do, on an individual level, to keep that from happening - that even with 50,000 or 100,000 people, the agents of the state could easily make the leaders of your stop-the-trafficking movement just vanish. You wouldn't bother after a while: you'd just stop trying to overcome the endemic corruption. I imagine that's kind of what the people in the villages where these traffickers operate think: the trafficker pays off the cops to not notice the kid screaming that he's being taken, the cops threaten the locals with retribution if they say they saw anything - maybe their own kid would be next.

And Senator Stevens is actually at risk of losing his long-held seat for what, possibly mismanaging/pilfering less than $1 million? No one died because of his free roof or Chevy Tahoe or whatever he got; outside the developed world, and especially in places without a lot of publicly accountable government, this happens on an epic scale.

LoriFLA, you might also be interested in reading about migrant labor, human trafficking and slavery from poorer parts of South/Southeast Asia to wealthier places in Asia and the Middle East (here's a basic intro to how it works in Hong Kong). There's a good article from the New Yorker here from a few months ago that explains how sex trafficking "works" in places like Moldova and Ukraine in eastern Europe, too.
posted by mdonley 20 August | 02:04
mdonley, thanks for the New Yorker article and wiki link. I have read about Stella Rotaru and the situation in the Ukraine before, most recently on NPR. Thank goodness for her and the many organizations and that help victims.

If they tried to escape, and went to the police, Maxim said, they would be returned to him—the police in Chisinau were all his friends—and punished. Yana never tried to escape; Galia did. And Maxim was right: Galia was returned to him, and beaten. Undaunted, Galia escaped again, and this time found her way to the Ukrainian Embassy. According to Yana, Maxim got a call, went to the Embassy, and retrieved her. She was severely beaten again.

This is a desperate situation. As you said, the corruption is vast. It's almost unbelievable. My naive brain wants to know how this can happen. How so many people can be morally bankrupt. I imagine the situation is even more desperate in places like China where there is no international presence.

My sister lived and taught in Saipan. There was a huge controversy to why there were young Chinese women working in garment factories with 12 foot chain linked fences topped with razor wire. They were bussed to the factories from housing that was also surrounded with fencing and razor wire. If I am recalling correctly they were making clothes for The Gap and Liz Claiborne. My sister said it was one of the most horrible things she has ever seen with her own two eyes, slave labor in a US commonwealth.
posted by LoriFLA 20 August | 11:06
Yeah, the Saipan thing is a national shame. Here's more.
posted by mdonley 20 August | 14:22
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