Gangs in China’s “Sin City” are forcing children to work the streets. Like the hungry, grimy Indian tots in the Slumdog Millionaire film, some of the least fortunate victims are mutilated to maximize sympathy and drive up the profits for their handlers.
A South China Morning Post article reports that the criminal organizations, or “beggar gangs,” keep the children in captivity, provide just enough food to keep them alive and take any money they make begging during their workdays. The article cites an investigative report done by Phoenix TV, a satellite TV network based in Hong Kong.
Wang Xiuyong, who was close to the head of one of the beggar gangs, spoke with Phoenix TV. Wang explained that most of the beggars were disabled children—many limbless or suffering from gruesome wounds—who had been stolen, kidnapped and even “rented” from their hometowns.
“In some cases, gang members would deliberately disable healthy children,” Wang said. “The more severely handicapped they are, the more valuable they are.”
The images are reminiscent of a scene from the Slumdog Millionaire in which a gang blinds a young boy. As the above reports claim, a crippled child would “elicit more sympathy from passers-by” (and, one would assume, money) than a healthy one.
This sad reality has gone viral in the past week on Sina Weibo, one of China’s leading social networks, where the term “Dongguan Beggars” became one of the most discussed topics. The industrial city of Dongguan has earned a reputation as the sex capital of China, and has made headlines in recent weeks following increasing police crackdowns on that industry. Another, perhaps darker, side of its underbelly now includes young children, and online commentators are asking why the police are failing to crack down on this even more sinister menace.
“Punish those bastards. …I hope [the case] will get the same attention as the Anti-Vice,” user Tian Lan Ruo Kong-Hui posted on March 18. “Anti-Vice” is a reference to the Dongguan Sin City police crackdown.
“You [authorities] have the time [to take care of Dongguan’s] Anti-Vice. Why don’t you have time to take care of these matters?” posted user FoTail on March 18.
“[As for] normal begging, the government should not interfere. But [in cases] such as children-renting, beating [to] disability, forced begging, etc., it cannot be regarded as [a normal] ‘beggar’s’ issue. In particular…children with disabilities… The police should be more proactive,” posted user Xiao Da Da Xiao Da on March 18. The technology found many other posts very similar to this one.
The original Sina Weibo post by user Phoenix Video (below) that contained a link to the video story was shared more than 30,000 times and sparked more than 8,000 discussions.