Trafficking ring targeted mentally disabled women

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Police in Jiangxi province have cracked down on a major human trafficking ring accused of abducting mentally disabled women, illegally detaining them at a pig farm and trafficking them, Jiangxi authorities said.

According to Jiangxi police, the key suspect, surnamed Sun, along with five other gang members, targeted mentally ill women aged between 20 and 30 in remote and rural areas from Guangdong and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. They trafficked them in Liaocheng and Linqing in Shandong province.

Police arrested Sun and his five associates in a recent operation, rescuing 10 women and confiscating illegally obtained assets valued at 600,000 yuan ($131,000), according to the Jiangxi police.

The case dated back to February, when Jiangxi police noticed a mentally disabled woman acting abnormally on a train from Nanning, Guangxi Zhang autonomous region, to Changchun, Jilin province.

Police officers discovered that two suspicious men accompanying her had abducted the woman in Fangchenggang, Guangxi, and intended to sell her in Changchun.

After a careful investigation, police found a major human trafficking ring headed by Sun and five other suspects, who had a tight organizational structure with a clear division of labour.

This included receiving buyers' orders, arranging for kidnapping victims in Guangdong and Guangxi, transporting them by car or train, illegally detaining them and trafficking them.

"After receiving the buyers' orders, Sun immediately informed his two subordinates, who hired three women matchmakers to cheat the relatives of the victims under the guise of introducing marriages or offering jobs, then taking them away to be trafficked," said Xu Jian, a police officer from the Ganzhou Railway Public Security Department, adding that most of the victims were aged between 20 and 30 and came from rural areas.

According to Jiangxi police, Sun ran a pig farm in Shandong, where the kidnapped victims were "beaten, mistreated, corporally punished and illegally detained to wait for the buyers."

"Most of the buyers were middle-aged men from remote areas in Shandong, who couldn't marry a wife due to poor finances and intended to purchase the mentally ill women to carrying on the family lines," the police quoted Sun as saying.

According to Jiangxi police, because the women couldn't defend themselves, and their families also thought of them as a "burden and trouble", police faced practical difficulties discovering evidence and signs of a crime.

The China Association of Persons with Intellectual Disability and their Relatives released a statement condemning such irrational and inhuman crimes.

Ma Tinghui, honourable president at the association, said she felt sorry to hear about such incidents.

"It is a very sad case, but I am not that surprised because discrimination has not yet been eliminated completely in our society," she said.

"We should establish mechanisms and improve measures to protect the legitimate rights of intellectually disabled people," she added.

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