Child trafficking...Zhang Shuxia
(C), a Chinese obstetrician, is escorted by two police officers into
court in Shaanxi province. Zhang was given a suspended death sentence
for abducting seven newborn babies and selling them to traffickers, in a
case that drew widespread outrage. Picture: AFP
A CHINESE doctor who abducted and sold newborn babies has been given
a suspended death sentence in a case that drew widespread outrage with
child trafficking a chronic problem in the country.
Obstetrician Zhang Shuxia was found guilty of stealing seven
children, tricking parents into giving up their babies by telling them
the newborns were sick or had died, the court said.
were only discovered last year, when she told the parents of a newborn
boy that the mother "had syphilis and hepatitis which could infect the
infant'' and persuaded them to give him up, the court said.
"She took the baby home, and contacted a trafficker,'' it added.
Doctors later told the parents they were free of both diseases, reports at the time said, and they raised the alarm.
recovered the boy, who had been sold by traffickers to a farmer with
three daughters in the central province of Henan for 60,000 yuan
Also last year, Zhang persuaded a mother to give up a pair of
newborn female twins on the grounds that one had died of disease, while
the other supposedly had injured arms and legs, the court found.
Tricked parents...Zhang received
around $3600 for baby girls and $8500 for baby boys. The underground
trafficking industry in China has flourished due to the one child policy
and cultural preference for boys. Picture: AFP
Chinese parents are sometimes willing to give up disabled
children because of the limits imposed by the country's one-child
policy, as well as widespread social stigma about disability.
two girls were also recovered, but another baby Zhang sold was later
found dead in a ditch, dumped by a trafficker, said the intermediate
court in Weinan, in the northern province of Shaanxi, judging her to be
Zhang received around 20,000 yuan each for
several female babies, it added, while a male baby fetched a price of
47,000 yuan in 2011.
It sentenced Zhang to death with a two-year
reprieve, adding that her actions "had a negative impact on society''.
The penalty is likely to be commuted to life imprisonment.
A photograph posted by the court showed Zhang, 55, in a blue jacket and trousers, flanked by police officers.
repeated deceptions caused shock across China and highlighted its
flourishing underground child trafficking industry, for which tens of
thousands of children are believed to be stolen each year.
are sold within the country to meet demand fuelled by a one-child limit
and traditional preference for sons, while parents accuse apathetic
police of failing to investigate.
China does not publish figures
on how many children are seized every year but said it rescued 24,000 in
the first 10 months of 2013, probably a fraction of total cases.
have sometimes refused to open inquiries because the low chance of
success might hurt their performance record, and have resisted pursuing
families who buy the babies.
The country's strict population
control policies mean that most couples are allowed to only have one
child, although its top legislature this month endorsed a resolution
allowing couples to have two offspring if either parent is an only
So far five officials have been sacked in Fuping county,
where Zhang's hospital was located, including the head of the facility
and the director of the local health department, the official Xinhua
news agency said.
But the father of one of the children stolen by
Zhang, surnamed Lai, told state-run media: "When hospital leaders came
to see me and brought presents I threw them out of the window. I don't
accept late apologies, its too late.''
Prosecutors told the court
that the trafficking ring extended across several Chinese provinces, and
while the cases Zhang was convicted of go back only to 2011, reports
said that she may have sold many more children.
According to state media police received reports of 26 incidents allegedly involving the doctor as the main suspect.
Chinese Internet users celebrated the verdict, while many called for a stiffer punishment.
should die, she is the shame of the medical profession,'' one user
wrote on Sina Weibo, a social media service similar to Twitter.
Another wrote: "The death penalty should be carried out immediately.''