|A woman hugs her daughter after seperating for more than 20 years. [baobaihuijia.com]|
Over the past seven years, a total of 916 abducted children have been found across China with the help of a website and its 100,000 volunteers.
Baobeihuijia.com (literally: baby come home) was founded by Zhang Baoyan and her husband in Tonghua in northeast China's Jilin Province in 2007. The idea came to Zhang due to the fact that her 4-year-old son went missing while shopping with his grandmother in a shopping mall. Although her son was found several hours later, she began to show concern for other missing children and hoped to console and help parents whose children were missing.
Zhang also found that the channels that some people used were too simple. Some parents spent as much as 600,000 yuan (U.S. $98,198) putting up posters looking for their children, while other parents spent more than 3 million yuan (U.S. $490,990) traveling across the whole country to look for their children. Due to this, she decided to launch a website to offer practical help.
To concentrate on the development of the website, Zhang quit her job in a local bank and used her family's savings to manage the website at home. At first, the cost of the website and the telephone charges made her feel stressed. As time went on, more and more parents found their children with the help of the website and thus more and more people came to know about it.
In 2008, Zhang founded a volunteer association, through which volunteers across the country communicated with each other on QQ (an instant messaging platform) to look for abducted children.
In 2010, the volunteer association and the China Social Welfare Foundation jointly launched a charity fund to help look for abducted children. The local government also helped Zhang solve financial problems, by providing her with a work space and approaching wealthy individuals and enterprises to donate to the website.
Currently, there are six full-timers and one part-timer at the website, with more than 100,000 volunteers across the country.
The website showed on October 28 that there were still 16,125 families looking for their children and 11,226 children looking for their parents.
As soon as someone seeks help on the website, the volunteer association will arrange for particular volunteers to follow up. If the abducted child is found, the volunteers will write down the details of the case and post them online for reference.
Xiao Mei, one of the most outstanding volunteers, has helped find more than 40 abducted children. On September 18, she spent only one minute helping a family find their child named Yang Tingting who was lost in Conghua in south China's Guangdong Province in 1998.
A State Department report estimated that 20,000 children and women are abducted in China every year. The crackdown on trafficking launched in April 2009 resulted in the rescue of 6,785 children in 18 months, according to official statistics.
Behind the abduction and trafficking of women and children is a strong demand from buyers. Outlawing the buying of women and children is an overdue amendment to the Chinese legal system, according to an article in the Beijing News on October 28.
Recently, Chinese law-makers outlawed the purchasing of women and children. Before the amendment, the purchasers of woman and child -- effectively slave-owners -- could be sentenced to a maximum of three years imprisonment, or detained or put under control for a short time. Most of the buyers only receive a verbal warning, if they did not abuse the women and children before the authorities found them.
According to the article, the law-makers should increase the penalty on purchasers to deter others, because legal loopholes make purchasers fearless and put the families losing their children and daughters in an extremely disadvantaged and unfair position.
(Source: People's Daily & The Beijing News/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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