Chinese doc. guilty of trafficking newborns: ‘tip of the iceberg’ says anti-One Child policy leader
BEIJING, January 15, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Chinese obstetrician has been given a suspended death sentence after being found guilty of abducting seven newborn babies between November 2011 and July 2013 and selling them to human traffickers.
However, a leading opponent of the country’s One Child Policy, says the case is only the “tip of the iceberg” of China’s child-trafficking problem, which she blames on China’s notoriously harsh family planning policies.
Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, pointed out that while official numbers do not exist, experts have estimated that between 70,000 and 200,000 children are trafficked each year in China.
"The U.S. Department of State’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report downgraded China to being a Tier 3 nation, a status it now shares with Iran, Libya, Sudan and North Korea," Littlejohn told LifeSiteNews.
“The One Child Policy is the driving force in this trafficking," Littlejohn said, explaining that couples who do not have a son want to obtain a boy through trafficking, while couples who already have a son may want to traffic a girl into their family, to ensure that their son will have a bride when he grows up.”
Because of the widespread practice of sex-selective abortion, currently there are currently about 37 million more males living in China than females.
State press agency Xinhua said Zhang Shuxia, an obstetrician working at Fuping County Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, was found guilty of selling the babies, one of whom later died, to human traffickers after persuading their parents to give up their newborns by convincing them their children had died, or had deformities or incurable diseases.
According to documents from the Weinan Intermediate People's Court, Zhang received about 20,000 yuan ($3,600) from traffickers for each female baby while a male baby fetched a price of 47,000 yuan. Traffickers then resold the children to couples in central and eastern China for about three times what they paid for them.
“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,” the judgment reportedly stated.
"Though Zhang Shuxia confessed, her behaviour violated both professional and social ethics, had an extremely bad social impact, and the circumstance of the crimes were grave."
Xinhua reported that Zhang was found not guilty of causing a baby's death after one of the girls she had snatched and sold was found dead, though she was held responsible for leaving the baby unattended.
The baby died after a human trafficker surnamed Pan abandoned the infant and threw her into a garbage ditch, according to court records.
Zhang's involvement in baby trafficking was exposed in July, when a mother, surnamed Dong, suspected her newborn had been abducted.
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Dong said Zhang told her and her husband that their newborn son had contracted syphilis and hepatitis B from his mother and would die. When tests showed that the parents were not infected with the diseases, Dong reported the incident to police. Her baby boy was found in neighboring Henan Province on Aug. 5 and returned to her.
Twin baby girls were also rescued from neighboring Shanxi Province and Shandong Province in east China on Aug. 10 after their mother, surnamed Wang, contacted police in Fuping.
Xinhua reported that following Chinese media reports of Zhang's activities, police received complaints of 55 similar infant trafficking incidents, including 26 in which Zhang was allegedly involved, although police investigations found evidence in only six of the 26 cases.
The baby trafficking scandal resulted in eight other suspects being investigated by police and the firing of three county government officials - deputy head of the Fuping county government Li Leiping, Fuping Health Bureau chief Ji Xinmin and deputy chief Bian Cimei, as well as the sacking of the hospital's president, Wang Li, and two other senior managers, according to Xinhua.
The 2013 U.S. government’s TIP Report states, “The [Chinese] government did not address the effects its birth limitation policy had in creating a gender imbalance and fueling trafficking, particularly through bride trafficking and forced marriage.”
“Our hearts go out to the parents who gave up their newborns because this obstetrician, whom they trusted, lied to them and told them that their children were dying of an incurable disease. We can only imagine the sense of betrayal they must feel,” Littlejohn said, but warned that "the corruption of this obstetrician and the local officials surrounding her is just the tip of the iceberg."
Littlejohn noted that according Wu Xinghu, who lost his own newborn to traffickers five years ago, hospital complicity with trafficking is not unusual.
Wu told Voice of America that Zhang Shuxia “was a scapegoat when the case became too big to be covered up.”
Reggie Littlejohn is featured as an expert on China's One Child Policy in the "It's a Girl" film, a feature-length documentary about gendercide and forced abortion in China and India.
The film trailer for "It's a Girl" is available here.