Beijing plans national panel to tackle human trafficking

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2007, 12:00am

State Council to spearhead drive involving 21 ministries and commissions in long-term effort to eradicate abuse

Beijing plans to set up a national panel to curb human trafficking, especially that involving women and children forced into labour or prostitution, state media reported.

The effort by 21 ministries and commissions, including the ministries of public security, labour and social security and education, and the women's federation, would be led by the State Council and aim to provide sustainable and long-term solutions for human trafficking, China Daily reported.

The Ministry of Public Security said in July that forced labour and sexual exploitation had become a new feature of human trafficking and the number of such cases was rising. The number of women between 16 and 20 abducted for the 'entertainment business' was also climbing.

Traditionally, human trafficking was associated with forced marriage or adoption.

Meanwhile, the National Plan of Action Against Trafficking of Women and Children (2008-2012), which has gone through four readings, will be unveiled at the end of the year, according to Yin Jianzhong , a senior official of the anti-human trafficking office of the Ministry of Public Security.

'The highlight of the policy is to shift the focus from crackdown, rescue and recovery to prevention,' Mr Yin said.

Much human trafficking and forced labour is disguised as recruitment, as in one incident reported by the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Daily in which a girl, 17, from Shanxi was tricked into working in a kiln in Hebei , only to find herself forced into sex slavery for the kiln's male workers.

A pilot scheme to help prevent human trafficking by educating migrant workers before they leave home is being tested in Guangdong, to where 20 million migrant workers swarm every year, and Jiangsu , which has 12 million migrant workers, Xinhua reported.

Hunan province , which is working with Guangdong on the scheme, has strengthened education and training of migrant workers before they leave. Once they arrive in Guangdong, they will be tracked by local staff or introduced to jobs by legal employment agencies.

In Changzhou, Jiangsu, a local federation of workers and a group of women are working with Anhui , where most of the city's immigrant workers come from, to provide free employment information and arrange jobs.

In June, a child slavery scandal was exposed in which hundreds of teenagers, migrant workers and mentally ill people were forced to work without pay for years in brick kilns in Shanxi .

Some worked in inhumane conditions and were beaten and guarded by dogs.

Beijing quickly conducted a national crackdown on illegal kilns, reprimanded local officials and threw owners and foremen into prison, but slaves' parents said such slavery had not been stamped out.

Tao Wenzhong , assistant professor at Capital University of Economics and Business, said tougher control of the employment market had to be imposed to stop human trafficking in the guise of jobs.

'The situation improves when there is a national crackdown but gets back to usual when there isn't, which is unacceptable,' he said.

Mr Tao said it was vital for low-level labour supervision authorities to strengthen inspections.

The highlight of the policy is to shift the focus from crackdown, rescue and recovery to prevention

Yin Jianzhong, a senior official with the Ministry of Public Security