Forced Labour in China’s booming economy
A Chinese gang “shanghaied” (kidnapped) a young man, held him for three weeks and put him on a boat near Indonesia where he worked as a fisherman. He did this without pay and by force. Eventually he jumped overboard, swam to freedom and returned to China where a Hong Kong gang “shanghaied” him again. He is now on a pineapple plantation and desperately wants to leave.
Forced labour affects many countries around the world. It is estimated there are 12.3 million victims of forced labour worldwide, 2.4 million of who have been trafficked. Although it affects many different countries, it is a serious problem in China. Stories usually involve abducting, coercing or tricking vulnerable children and adults, taking them to brick factories or coal mines, keeping them captive and forcing them to work for little or no pay.
Examples of forced labour in China fall within the UN definition of trafficking (in which a person must be tricked, forced, recruited and exploited). Even though China agreed to the UN Protocol against trafficking last year, their position on forced labour is unclear. The reason why it is unclear, and this is the crazy part, is because their definition of trafficking does not actually prohibit “forced labour”.
It is important to remember that not all forced labour is trafficking but it is clear that China needs to revise anti-trafficking laws to address all forms of trafficking, the issues of labour rights and labour protection, and also the fact that Chinese law also leaves out offenses committed against male victims.
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