From the Inter Press Service, writer Mitch Moxley tells us more about the practice of slavery in China.
In May 2009, police in Anhui province arrested ten men for allegedly enslaving more than 30 mentally handicapped people who had been forced to work at brick kilns. In 2007, hundreds of brick kiln slaves, many of them children or mentally handicapped, were freed in raids across northern China.
Reports of enslaved mentally ill workers have come from ten provinces since 2007, according to the China Association of Mentally Handicapped People. There have been 20 cases of mentally ill workers being killed, a Legal Daily report said.
Meng Weina, founder of the Beijing Huiling Community Services for People with Learning Disabilities, says mentally ill people are especially vulnerable in China, where the social security net is small and care generally falls into the hands of the family. When parents die, many mentally handicapped people have no one to care for them. In rural areas, where 70 percent of mentally disabled people live, there are virtually no organisations that offer support.
"We have seen so many cases of abduction," Meng tells IPS, "but when they are reported to place, no one really cares."
Liu Kaiming, labour researcher and executive director at the Shenzhen-based Institute of Contemporary Observation, says the root cause is imperfect social safety nets, inadequate laws and regulations protecting mentally ill people, and lack of punishment for officials who neglect their duties.
"I don’t think the central and local governments have done anything to protect mentally ill workers," Liu tells IPS.