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Sexual abuse of children 'left behind' by migrant worker parents on rise

By Liu Sha (Global Times)

10:52, June 19, 2012

They are the innocent and often silent victims of a crime that too often goes unreported in rural parts of China due to children's shame and the social stigma attached to sexual abuse. Child sex abuse is often rampant in villages where parents are often thousands of kilometers away laboring as migrant workers, unable to keep a watchful eye on their children.

One of the most shocking cases emerged last year, when a 12-year-old girl named Xiaoli (pseudonym) from Guxian township of Yanshi in Henan Province was found to be four months pregnant. Xiaoli's sole guardian was her 65-year-old grandmother.

Xiaoli had been sexually abused by a man surnamed Li, who lived in the same county. Li molested Xiaoli repeatedly at his home, threatening to throw her into a river if she ever told anyone of the abuse.

Scratching the surface

Xiaoli's case was only the tip of the iceberg of Guxian's child sexual abuse epidemic. An official from the local procuratorate told the China Youth Daily that 19 similar cases were reported in Guxian last year alone.

In East China's Anhui Province, 43 students aged under 13 from four different counties were reportedly sexually abused by their teachers last year. Most victims were children of migrant workers in other cities.

The All-China Women's Federation and the People's Procuratorate in South China's Guangdong Province conducted joint research on children living in parentless homes and found that 2,506 children under 18 had been sexually abused over the last three years, with more than half of the victims under 14, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

"Child sex abuse is probably more common than statistics indicate," Wang Ling, researcher with the Family Education Professional Commission at the Chinese Society of Education, told the Global Times. "It is humiliating for children to be sexually abused in Chinese society, especially for victims from conservative, rural areas."

Figures from the National Statistics Bureau revealed that last year there were 158.6 million migrant workers, up 3.4 percent from 2010.

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