Author: Scholar Yang Zhizhu ( Collaborator of WRIC) 2014-01-22
According to reports from Beijing News on January 21, 2014, ” Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Supreme Court, Ministry of Public Security and other departments are working to improve the Minors’ custody intervention policies and initial propositions are expected to release within the year”. The foreword in the report (“Parents endangering well being of children will have their guardianship deprived”) listed the following as examples; the starving child incident in 2013, Bijie trash poisoning incident in 2012 and Yang Shihai’s years of abuse to his own daughter in Jinsha, Guizhou. This article is frequently quoted and shared among netizens, which leads to overwhelmingly skewed public opinion.
Yet based on my understanding towards current Chinese children’s rights situation and system, tightening state intervention for domestic violation comes with legitimate concerns. Another pressing issue would be planning the next steps after ordering the deprivation of parental guardianship. Irresponsible parents may not be the most reasonable, putting adoptive parents in a difficult position, fear that the born parents may cause them chaos for taking away their victimized children? Besides, the current adoption policy states that the adoptees are neither orphans nor abandoned and taking them in will leave the adoptive parents with no extra birth quota left to bear their own child. Hence after having their birth parents’ custody taken away the children can only be fostered by welfare department, and rely on the police force to prevent the parents from causing further troubles. With constant trafficking, abandonment, and increased child abuse cases in China today the welfare department may not be able to withstand pressure in the long run.
Both the enormous pressure and irresistible temptations also further complicate the matter. According to Ministry of Civil Affairs Article 14 in (adoption of children of foreigners registered in the People’s Republic of China), the first and second paragraph state that a registration fee is required for any children adoption by foreigners, also an additional fee is required to pay off the fostering service third party. The third paragraph states: “The State encourages foreign adoption candidates and agencies to make donations to the social welfare sector.” The “donation” competition among developed countries’ causes domestic candidates to pay a considerable amount of “donation” before being able to adopt a child. Recently domestic welfare institutions are condemned for this “children trafficking “
practice and this leads to increased government funding as an attempt to ease the crooked practice. Yet welfare institutions will continue to accept financial support under the disguise of “donation” when foreign adoption candidates are involved, citing “unexpected pressure” as their excuse to shield themselves from criticism. Since the government remains its laissez faire attitude in regulating welfare institutions children trafficking problem will persist, or even become more severe. Prospect of this possible scenario leads to the question; whether abolishing custody rights of irresponsible parents is beneficial? Will this jeopardize China’s image on the international stage?
China lacks rule of law by tradition so it is common that perspectives are emotionally driven. The public may consider human trafficking as death penalty worthy, and in similar context negligent parents deserve to have their custody right stripped off. Moreover, many reporters and government officials are very eager to instigate and insert popular “public opinion” to mislead the people, and deterrence gradually garners more clamors. In fact blockade measures can only be effective to a certain degree.
Skyscrapers have strong foundations and the same applies to serious social problem; there’s got to be deeper roots that contribute the problem. Laws should function as a tool to help people to make better decisions and discourage unlawful behavior, but not to solely serve as means to punish after
wrongdoings are committed. Besides the large number of irresponsible parents the government and society also have their shares of blame: When the Public Security Bureau carries out the release on bail have they put law offenders’ minor children at home into consideration? Have they done enough to support children whose parents are serving prison sentences, mentally ill, disabled and single parent? Hukou system
(household registration) restrictions also make it impossible for many children live with their parents! ” Social compensation fee ” forces many fathers to leave their homes only to earn better wages to pay off the debt! There are tens of millions of “illegal children” as the government refuses to issue them household registration. The parents have no choice but to relocate, hoping to make enough to pay off ” social compensation fee “. Yet they are not allowed to take their children with them due to Hukou restrictions. How is it fair to have these parents shoulder all the blame for dereliction? Even in the case of Le Yan, the mother from Nanjing who seemingly committed the unforgivable sin for starving her child, the government cannot shy away from its share of social responsibility. Le Yan herself is born without household registration and it is only normal that her child is without one as well.
There is special mention on the adoption laws. Adoption is one of mankind’s greatest ideologies; helping poor parents rid themselves of biological children whom they cannot afford to raise, those who have the desire to adopt are able to fulfill their wishes, and less fortunate children may find a family they belong again. If the adoption practice had a proper system to regulate heinous acts like child abuse, abandonment and trafficking would be vastly reduced. This helps to limit the possibility of parents mistreating their children, abandonment, and shrinks the trafficking market. But with birth control being the deciding factor, China’s adoption law is uniquely strict, making the transaction ifficult for both the adopting parents and adoptees. The strict laws provide the standoffish stage for abuse, abandonment and contribute as the primary reason for the proliferation of trafficking crimes.
If the government and society were committed to provide sufficient care and protection for children, abandonment and trafficking crimes would definitely see a significant drop. Negligent parents would have no excuses for their dereliction. Their families, friends and neighbors would no longer react with misplaced sympathy. By that time, deprivation for serious misconduct or incorrigible parental custody becomes a matter of fact, and welfare institutions won’t need to be under pressure to take on the responsibility to raise these children. By then the parents convicted of dereliction of duty would become very isolated without the public taking their side, which would leave them no choice but to repent. They would also think twice before causing any havoc.