Poverty of the Yi Nationality in Liangshan

 

Dire poverty among the Yi Nationality in Liangshan Mountains forces children 12 years old to migrate to work in coastal cities.

NZ Herald reports on April 30, 2008

Thousands of children in southwest China have been sold into slavery like "cabbages", to work as labourers in more prosperous areas such as the booming southern province of Guangdong, the Southern Metropolis newspaper said.
Seventy-six children from Liangshan county had been missing since the Chinese Lunar Year festival in February, 42 of whom had already left the region to work.
"The youngest children found in the child labour market were only 7 and 9 years old," it said.

In Asianoffbeat 05/05/2008

Hundreds of children from Liangshan, a poor farming town in Sichuan province have been sold to factories in Guangdong's Dongguan city as well as Shenzhen and Huizhou as slave labour over the past five years. The victims were forced to work almost around the clock, beaten, raped and deprived of pay, nourishment and basic medical care!

An investigative report by Southern Metropolis, a state-run daily in Guangdong said the children were "sold like cabbages" by their parents to gangs who in turn sold them off to employment agencies or directly to factories hundreds of miles from their homes.

The children, mostly between the ages of 13 and 15, were often tricked or kidnapped by employment agencies in an impoverished part of western Sichuan Province called Liangshan and then sent to factory towns in Guangdong, where they were sometimes forced to work 300 hours a month, according to government officials and accounts from the state-owned media. The legal working age in China is 16.

http://www.asianoffbeat.com/default.asp?display=1741

David Barboza, writing for the International Herald Tribune visited Liangshan (May 10, 2008)

Residents say children as young as 12 have been recruited by child labor rings, equipped with fake identification cards, and transported hundreds of miles across the country to booming coastal cities, where they work 12-hour shifts to produce much of the world's toys, clothes and electronics.
"Last year I had 30 students. This year there are only 14. All the others went outside to find work," said Ji Ke Xiaoming, 35, a primary school teacher whose students in Erwu Village are mostly ages 12 to 14. "You know, we are very poor. Some families can't even afford a bag of salt."
"More than 10 families interviewed in the span of five hours in Zhaojue County, part of Liangshan, said they had children working in factories, often earning less than $90 a month for 12-hour days, seven days a week. Even if the children were of working age, the pay, equivalent to about 25 cents an hour, and the working conditions would violate China's labor laws. In the prime manufacturing zones, the official minimum wage is at least 65 cents an hour, and employers are required to pay significantly more for overtime."

Liangshan, formally known as the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, may have become a target of child labor rings precisely because it is a place of desperation. The villages, populated almost exclusively by Yi, are reached by traveling for hours along winding roads through the thickly forested part of Sichuan Province.

http://iht.com/articles/2008/05/10/asia/10china.php

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