Respected doctor appears in Chinese court for selling babies

2013-12-31 11:08

Beijing – A Chinese doctor has admitted in court that she stole babies from the hospital where she worked and sold them to human traffickers.

According to online postings from the court, Zhang Shuxia, a locally respected and soon-to-retire obstetrician, stood trial yesterday in northern Shaanxi province’s Fuping county.

Zhang told parents their newborns had congenital problems and persuaded them to “sign and give the babies up,” the court postings said. Calls to the Weinan Intermediate People’s Court and the local Communist Party propaganda department went unanswered.

The case exposes the operations of a baby trafficking ring that operated across several provinces centring on Zhang, who delivered babies at the Fuping County Maternal and Child Hospital.

Child trafficking is a big problem in China despite severe legal punishments that include the death penalty. Families who buy trafficked children are driven partly by the traditional preference for male heirs, a strict one-child policy and ignorance of the law.

The indictment said that from November 2011 to July 2013 Zhang sold seven babies to middlemen who sold them to “couples” in central and eastern China. Six of the babies were rescued, but one that was trafficked for 1 000 yuan (R1 723) in April later died.

Zhang was found out when a mother suspected her baby had been abducted and reported her to police in July. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that Zhang had taken the baby home with her and sold him to a man in a neighbouring province for 21 600 yuan (R37 223) the same night.

He in turn resold the baby to a villager in central China for 59 800 yuan (R103 052). Several other suspects have been detained in at least four provinces, Xinhua said.

The case has added to public frustration with China’s medical profession over rampant bribery and other abuses.

The Beijing Times newspaper called for a “fair punishment” for Zhang to deter other doctors. “It will inject the authoritativeness of law into professional ethics of doctors and will warn doctors not to take the wrong step that brings them lifelong regret,” the paper said.

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