Fortunately, Xiaoyu was able to be reunited with his family. But many children like him are not so lucky. Child trafficking is still rampant in rural China. Boys are often abducted by gangs and then sold for a high price to couples desperate for a male heir. While occasionally parents are reunited with their long lost children, more often they can only search in vain for years.
In recent years, police have cracked down on the gangs. Last January, Shandong police rescued a total of 37 infants in a single bust. China now has a national anti-kiddnapping taskforce that carries out high-profile raids that sometimes liberate hundreds of kidnapped children. Yet, many Chinese believe that not enough is being done to stop abductions and punish kidnappers."I have no words, death penalty for child traffickers!" one netizen commented.
"Please like my comment if you agree that these criminals should be shot!" another netizen responded.
Last year, an appeal to institute the death penalty against all those convicted of child trafficking gained a significant following online. Currently China only sentences human traffickers to death in severe cases—including those who organized large-scale child trafficking gangs or used violence to abduct children. Child traffickers are generally given five to 10 years in prison depending on the nature of their crimes.
The exact scale of child trafficking is hard to know since official data is difficult to come by. CCTV reports that 7,700 human trafficking cases were reported in China from 2010 to 2014 with more than 12,900 traffickers and buyers punished. The number of cases has been decreasing since 2013.
By Sophie Wang