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China Declares ‘Zero Tolerance’ on Human Trafficking
A policy of zero tolerance aimed at wiping out the trade in human trafficking was declared by China’s top law enforcement agency and UNICEF yesterday.

In a joint move yesterday, China's top law enforcement agency and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a project to halt the age-old practice of selling women and children.

Many of the women are bought by farmers who cannot find wives in the normal way. But recently the trade has taken a far more disturbing turn with women and children being sold into prostitution, said UNICEF official and senior project coordinator, David Parker.

The so called "Elimination of Trafficking: Zero Tolerance Plan," which is set to last four years, will seek to find an effective working system to eliminate the "demand market" of population marketing through education, case reports and crackdowns, said Zhu Yantao, an official with the Ministry of Public Security.

Declaring a "Zero Tolerance" policy means that Xinye refuses to accept even one case of trafficking of children and women, said Parker. "We need to create a public ethos that is intolerant to such inhuman practice," he said.

UNICEF has donated US$35,000 towards the funding of the project this year, while more than 300,000 yuan (US$37,000) has been given by the government of the county.

These moneys will be used to promote awareness, through various public education activities among local farmers, of the evil of human trafficking.

As a typical agricultural county in Central China with a population of 730,000, the pilot location, Xinye, is notorious as a major site for the trafficking of women.

From 1979 to 1983, the sale of 1,670 women and 38 children took place in the county.

The women sold are usually forced to marry local farmers who cannot find a wife in the normal way because they are old, ugly, disabled or poor.

As government departments across the nation have sought to strengthen their efforts in the fight against human trafficking, there has been a marked decrease in the crime in recent years.

For example in Xinye, only 18 women have been trafficked into the area since 1986.

Nevertheless, the trafficking of women and babies is still a major social problem in China, particularly in Henan Province, which has a population of nearly 100 million and where farmers have a fairly long history of buying women and children from other areas, such as Southwest China's Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces.

( People's Daily September 25, 2002)

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