Political advisors propose stricter penalties for child abusers
Published: May 24, 2020 07:48 PM

A child views dogwood flowers in Foping County of Hanzhong, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, March 7, 2020.  (Xinhua/Tao Ming)

Chinese political advisors have proposed increasing the penalties for child abusers and that the law should be amended to strengthen the protection of minors in distress such as orphans and left-behind children. 

The proposal was made by Huang Xiqin, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body, along with 45 other CPPCC members who also focus on children's legitimate rights and interests. 

Huang has suggested ways to close the loopholes in the current child protection laws, including increasing the penalties for those convicted of child abuse. 

"We should enact the strictest measures to punish child abusers and create a zero-tolerance society for crimes against children," she said. 

Existing laws stipulate that severe offenders should face criminal charges, but in reality, an abuser in many cases is the victim's guardian, which means a minor will be left with no caregiver if the abuser is jailed.   

Huang called for better protection of minors by punishing the abusers as well as enhancing social and national guardianship.  

Huang suggested that the law should specify what happens to minors if their parent or guardian is stripped of their guardianship. A state guardianship system should be established which the government will be responsible for.  

The Law on the Protection of Minors states that people's courts can revoke parents or other guardians' guardianship if they fail to perform their duties or infringe upon the lawful rights and interests of the minors upon related parties' application. 

"But who will be appointed as the next guardian? What if there is no one qualified for that? Who will be the ultimate backstop for the children?" Huang asked, calling for a national law and regulation system to address the problem.

Huang told the Global Times that child protection has been facing a lot of challenges amid the COVID-19 outbreak, especially when children were left unsupervised due to their parents or guardians' involvement in the epidemic prevention and control work or other reasons. 

Orphans, homeless children and left-behind children are typical groups in distress that are more likely to encounter abuse, abandonment and other physical or mental injuries. The national system and society should give more attention to them, she noted.  

In the proposal, Huang also advised building state-supported health centers to help those who are in distress, and to establish a guardianship compensation system in some pilot cities by directly subsidizing guardians or offering tax deductions.