Panel set to target human trafficking

By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-04 07:12

The government plans to set up the first national mechanism for combating trafficking to protect women and children from forced labor and prostitution.

The joint effort by 21 ministries - including the ministries of public security, labor and social security, education and supervision - aims to provide sustainable and long-term solutions to human trafficking.

It will be led by a leading group reporting directly to the State Council, Yin Jianzhong, a senior official of the anti-human trafficking office of the Ministry of Public Security, said.

Meanwhile, the National Plan of Action on Anti-trafficking of Women and Children (2008-12), which is being drafted, will be unveiled by the end of this year, Yin said.

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

Kathleen Speake, chief technical advisor to the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) Project to Prevent Trafficking in Girls & Young Women within China, said: "Trafficking in persons is complex and a global concern. It is often associated with periods of mass migration, such as we are seeing in China.

"It is encouraging that the Chinese government is looking at this issue from a cross-ministerial perspective with a coordinated focal point. This will greatly enhance coherence in policy making and implementation."

The latest effort comes at a time when forced labor and sexual exploitation have become the features of human trafficking in the country.

"The number of such cases is rising," Yin said earlier.

Traditionally, trafficking was associated with adoption or forced marriages.

Speake said prevention of trafficking is a low-cost and effective way to combating trafficking.

Labor migration in China is an important contributor to the country's continued economic development and the creation of a balanced and well-off society, said Speake.

However, without adequate support and protection, uninformed and ill-prepared migrants are at high risk of falling prey to forced labor or prostitution, she said.

With a spending of 13 million yuan ($1.7 million) from governments at various levels and co-funded by the UK's Department for International Development, the ILO's pilot program makes preventing trafficking in girls and young women a priority and is likely to be promoted nationwide, according to Speake.

Women and girls are the most vulnerable to trafficking, accounting for 80 percent of the trafficked population worldwide, she said.

About 3,000 cases of selling women and children are reported to police across the country every year, according to figures from the Ministry of Public Security.

To protect them, the ILO, in cooperation with the All China Women's Federation, has established 137 women's homes in six provinces including Anhui and Henan, offering safe migration and work assistance.

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