Chinese police free 24,000 abducted women and children

A young girl sits in a cardboard box on the edge of a road in Beijing (file photo) The one-child policy in China is thought to fuel trafficking

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Chinese police rescued more than 24,000 abducted women and children in 2011, according to a report by the Public Security Ministry.

Some of those kidnapped had been sold for adoption or forced into prostitution as far away as Angola, officials said.

The ministry vowed to step up its tough stance against trafficking.

However, it did not reveal the total number of women and children abducted last year.

The report said police rescued 8,660 abducted children and 15,458 women in raids against 3,195 trafficking gangs.

It highlighted one raid against a gang trafficking Chinese women to Angola for prostitution, adding that 19 women were rescued and 16 people were arrested.

"Public security organisations across China will deepen the campaign against abductions to save more women and children and work hard to reduce the number of abduction and trafficking cases," the ministry said.

Correspondents say child-trafficking in particular has become a serious problem in China.

In December, police rescued nearly 200 children after uncovering two child-trafficking gangs. More than 600 people were arrested in raids in 10 Chinese provinces.

Critics blame China's one-child policy and lax adoption laws, which they say have created a thriving underground market for buying children.

Families also buy trafficked women and children to use as extra labour and household servants, as well as brides for unmarried sons.

Greater freedom of movement as a result of China's economic reforms is thought to have made it easier for trafficking gangs to operate.

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