07/28/2007, 00.00
CHINA

Disabled children sold into begging trade for 200 euro

Save the children says that millions of children live separately from their migrant parents and are given over to people who promise to make them work but instead send them begging. The story of two disabled girls bought and sent out on the streets all day long to beg.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Disabled children are being bought and sent out on the streets of Beijing to beg.   If they don’t “earn” enough they risk being punished or beaten.

Gao Zhou Zhou does not have the use of her legs and moves herself around on a skateboard.  She is filthy and has no idea of her age, perhaps 15.  She tells The Guardian that three years ago a man came to her village in Henan and bought her from her stepfather for 220 euro.  Since then she has spent almost everyday on a footpath, not far from Tiananmen, from early morning to late at night.  She begs from those who pass her by.  On a good day she earns 300 Yuan, which she gives to her “uncle”.

 “'The man who took me here is a very powerful man – the girl confides - He's got men all over China. He told me he will find me wherever I go”.

Yang Ping, born with a curved spine and legs that can carry her only in a spider-like walk, was also sold two years ago. She was lured to Beijing with the promise of a job in a toy factory. Her parents were promised 20 euro a month. Arriving in the city, she was told the factory had gone bankrupt and she was forced to beg for her keepers. “The first day – she tells The Guardian – I only earned 20 Yuan. So they beat me”.

According to Kate Wedgwood, the outgoing China director of Save the Children, it is part of a much bigger phenomenon. Amid the huge tide of Chinese workers moving from country to city, as many as a million children have become separated from their parents. A lot of it is about ignorance; often the parents don't know what existence they are selling their children into.

Next year Beijing will be both Olympic and Paralympics city.   Most observers believe the beggars will be “cleaned out”, one way or the other.

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