A Shanghai couple faces jail for alleged human trafficking after “selling” their baby daughter and spending the money on an iPhone, expensive trainers and other luxury goods.
The pair, identified in local media only by their surnames, Mr Teng and Ms Zhang, put their third child up for adoption and were arrested by Shanghai prosecutors after they accepted money for the child.
They had been seeking between 30,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan (€3,600 and €6,000) for the girl, who was advertised before she was born.
The couple already had two boys, but earlier this year Ms Zhang found herself “accidentally pregnant”, the Liberation Daily newspaper reported.
Both Teng and Zhang were unemployed, poorly educated and living off their parents. As soon as Ms Zhang began to show, she lied to her neighbours and said that she had a stomach tumour, using her illness as a cover. She then gave birth at home.
The investigators said the couple had told them they wanted the girl to have a better upbringing than they could afford, since they already had two children.
“We did not give the child away to obtain profit, but to give the child better guarantees,” one had told them, the newspaper reported.
One posting on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of the banned Twitter network, said: “This is good business – no capital, huge profit and no need to sell kidneys.”
Last month, Apple launched the iPhone 5s, including a gold-coloured model, and the more budget iPhone 5c in China. The expensive model is outselling the cheaper one by two to one, as people opt for the status symbol over the cheaper model. The gold-coloured model is particularly popular.
Human trafficking is a major problem in China, as the traditional preference for boys over girls, especially in rural areas, and the one-child policy of population control, have seen a rise in the number of boys kidnapped and sold, often to childless couples.
However, there is also a growing market for girls. Some families from farming communities in the countryside sell their female babies for cash because boys are considered more valuable at home.
Last year, Chinese law enforcement agencies broke up child-trafficking rings in 15 provinces and arrested 802 people, after babies were auctioned off to the highest bidder for up to 50,000 yuan."
And police in China rescued more than 24,000 kidnapped women and children nationwide last year, as part of an ongoing crackdown on human trafficking.