Traffickers jailed for forcing children to beg

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2007, 12:00am

A Shenzhen court has sentenced three people to up to two years in prison for trafficking in disabled children and forcing them into begging, mainland media reported yesterday.

It was the first time anybody had been convicted in Shenzhen of forcing others to beg, the reports said.

The Futian District People's Court ordered married couple Wang Qingchen, 58, and Gong Jilan , 54, to each serve two years in prison, and their co-accused, Gong Chunbei, to serve 14 months, the Jing Bao newspaper reported.

The couple were convicted of smuggling three disabled children from Anhui province to Shenzhen, where they physically abused the children and forced them to become beggars, the report said.

The court was told the couple paid 2,000 yuan to an unidentified man in May 2002 to 'rent' a 13-year-old physically disabled boy and took him to Shenzhen to beg.

In June 2005 and in 2006, Gong Jilan and Gong Chunbei, her brother, bought two 12-year-old physically disabled girls and sent them to Shenzhen for the same purpose.

The trio were arrested a year ago.

The children said they had to sell roses on the street every day and would be beaten by the couple if they did not make 400 yuan a day.

Gong Jilan denied beating the children. She said one child could make about 10,000 yuan a year from begging, but she had to take 4,000 yuan as rent.

'I feed them myself and treat them as my own daughters,' she was quoted as saying.