By Yew Lun Tian
BEIJING (Reuters) – Uproar in China this year over incidents of women chained or caged by their husbands has spurred a nationwide crackdown on the decades-old problem of abduction and trafficking of women and children.
The Ministry of Public Security announced the crackdown ahead of Saturday’s opening of an annual session of the rubber-stamp parliament, at which at least seven delegates have expressed interest in raising the topic.
The operation will run until Dec. 31 in a politically sensitive year.
It comes at a time when major dissatisfaction towards the ruling Chinese Communist Party risks denting President Xi Jinping’s chance of winning a precedent-breaking third term as leader at a twice-a-decade meeting in autumn.
The ministry, which oversees the police, said on the Weibo social media app that it would run checks on women and children lacking identity details who live on the streets, suffer mental illness or are intellectually or physically disabled.
The ministry vowed to “resolutely eradicate the breeding ground for abducting and trafficking” women and children, it added in Wednesday’s statement.
The operation was meant to maintain social stability and ensure the success of the party’s autumn meeting, it said.
There was widespread public outcry last month after revelations of a woman chained by the neck in the eastern province of Jiangsu who had given birth to eight children by the man she was sold to in 1998.
Just as the furore appeared to be dying out, with news of the investigation of nine people over the case, another incident emerged this week in the northwestern province of Shaanxi.
It featured a woman apparently held in a cage by a man who said in live-streamed videos that he would beat her if she tried to escape.
In online comments, many Chinese expressed shock and anger that such abuses could linger in pockets of modern-day China, questioning if law enforcement authorities had been complicit, or at least negligent, in allowing the problem to fester.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)