Shortage of girls leads to kidnapping in China

Sunday Times:

WHEN Li Xiang Xiang, aged 2½, went out of her family's home on April 1 to the shop around the corner, as she did every day, her mother expected to see her back in minutes with a big smile and a bag of sweets.

Instead, Xiang Xiang - whose rhyming name means “thoughtful” - vanished and her heartbroken mother and father joined the ranks of Chinese parents who fear they have lost their little girls to child kidnappers.

Small boys have long been abducted for sale in China, but in recent years the country’s strict birth control policy, which has led to abortions of girls in families intent on having a boy, has left the countryside short of female babies.

According to a recent report in the British Medical Journal, 124 boys are born for every 100 girls in the country as a whole, and in one province the figure has risen to 192.

Stolen girls have therefore become increasingly valuable commodities in an cruel trade. Many are bought by farmers who want wives for their small sons when they come of age or by men who want a child bride without a dowry, say police and the state media.

The public security ministry says that between 2,000 and 3,000 children and young women are kidnapped every year, but the state-controlled newspapers have put the figure as high as 20,000. Only a handful of cases are solved.

...

This is the product of a sick culture where control freaks decide how may kids a couple can have and placing a higher premium on boys. Now with a shortage of girls, the value switches to the point where they are kidnapped at a young age as a future spouse.

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