During her interview with the media, Zhang Baoyan, a delegate to the 13th National People's Congress from Tonghua, Jilin province, advocated harsher punishments for those convicted of trafficking women and children. China Daily reporter Li Yang comments:
Zhang is the head of the nongovernmental organization Bring Baby Home, and founder of the first website in China to help people look for their lost children.
Although she has helped more than 2,800 families find their loved ones over the past 12 years, Zhang has realized that she will continue to be busy in the job as long as the penalties for the traffickers and buyers, which are even lighter than those for abduction, remain unchanged.
It is ridiculous that the advance of technology, the development of society and the progress of rule of law in China over the past 40 years have not helped put an end to the crime, which should long ago have been consigned to the past.
The relatively lenient punishments are why the crime still persists today. As Zhang says, it is necessary to raise the penalty from current 5-10 years imprisonment to more than 10 years' imprisonment with the death penalty as the heaviest sentence so as to deter people from committing a crime that leaves the victims and their families with lifelong scars.
Despite the authorities' continually cracking down on traffickers, as experience shows, many human traffickers are recidivists, who are tempted by the easy money to commit the crime again soon after they are released from prison.
Experience also shows that campaigns against human trafficking does not address the root cause of the problem.
The authorities should demonstrate their zero tolerance to the abduction and trafficking of women and children, by severely sentencing any who are convicted of the crime.
Meanwhile, the buyers of the women and children, whatever the reason, also deserve criminal penalties. Even if the abducted women or children are treated well by their buyers that does not change the nature of their crime or reduce the harm caused by their criminal acts. But the buyers have seldom been punished for their sinful acts.