According to media reports in China, a 6-year-old girl named Lu-Lu Zhang, together with her two younger brothers, Pei-Pei and Yan-Yan, were sold as beggars to an organized panhandling group for US$2 a day by their relatives, following the death of their father and abandonment by their mother.
Panhandling in China is big business, and it is estimated that a child beggar in China can make between US$450 and US$3,000 per month for their handlers. In response to an upsurge in the number of child beggars in China, a Beijing-based NGO called “Volunteers for Babies to Go Home” recently proposed a resolution to crack down on the exploitation of minor panhandlers.
Following media reports of parents forcing their children to be beggars, new reports are now emerging that parents are also forcing their children to be thieves.
Chinese media recently reported that after investigating a case of theft in Bèngbù City, Anhui Provincial, police discovered an 8-year-old girl named Niu Niu among the thieves. Niu Niu’s parents sold their daughter as a thief to a petty crime organization for US$7,400 a year.
The little girl was involved in numerous thefts in Anhui and Henan provinces for two years and was arrested several times.
Niu Niu came from a poor family with four underage siblings. When arrested, Niu Niu expressed her unwillingness to go home in fear of her father’s physical abuse. Her father was a gambling addict and her mother was a member of a gang. And although she was 8 years old, she never attended school.
Recently, a court removed Niu Niu from her parents and granted custody to her grandparents. Niu Niu’s grandfather vowed that he would never allow her to hang out with criminals anymore, and that she would be attending school for the first time next semester.
Translated by Jean Chen and edited by Angela.