China has sentenced six men to death for kidnapping 240 women and selling them to farmers desperate for wives, in one of the country's biggest cases of human trafficking.
The men were sentenced by a court in China's eastern Jiangsu province Friday, along with 12 of their accomplices, who were handed sentences of six years in prison to life imprisonment, the China News Service said.
The case is considered the biggest case of kidnapping and selling of women, the news service said.
The defendants headed a gang of some 90 members who kidnapped women from the southern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou and took them to Jiangsu, where they were handed over to 20 peasant gang members.
The gangsters then sold the women to peasant households in Jiangsu and northern Shandong province.
The kidnappings began in 1992.
The women, ranging from age 16 to 22, were tricked into thinking the kidnappers could find jobs for them. Several of them were raped by the gang members.
A few of the gang members had previously been arrested and sentenced to prison terms, but were later discovered to have returned to committing the crimes.
Trafficking in women has become a common practice in China where many poor farmers are unable to wed because they cannot afford to pay a dowry and women prefer to marry into better-off families or move to the city to work.
Last week, state media announced police rescued 110,000 kidnapped women and 13,000 kidnapped children in the course of a just-completed six-month nationwide crackdown on human trafficking.
Kidnapped children, most often boys, are also in heavy demand by rural couples who do not have sons and are prevented by the strict enforcement of the one-child policy to keep trying for one.
The traditional preference for boys still holds true as many people continue to see raising girls as an unsound investment because they "belong" to other families once married -- BEIJING(AFP)
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