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Shanghai needs better child-protection laws, experts say

THE city needs better child protection laws because the current ones are difficult to implement in many cases and don’t effectively curb abuse, negligence and violence against children, experts said today during a seminar.

The seminar on legislation to protect children’s rights and interests aimed to work out some feasible proposals to be submitted to the 2014 annual session of the Shanghai People's Congress, the city's legislative body. The hope was to provide more comprehensive protection for children, oganizers said.

It was hosted by China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a non-governmental organization focusing on the protection of abused children. It attracted more than 20 legislators, scholars, lawyers and NGO staff members gathered to brainstorm.

A recent string of children's deaths has raised questions about minors’ protection and guardianship, especially in China’s rural and poor areas.

“The current laws on minors fail to match the real situation and lack supporting regulations and policies, with a lot problems related with guardianship not addressed," said Liu Qi, vice president of the Shanghai Women's Federation.

She suggested clearer and detailed provisions on the circumstances under which guardians could be deemed as not fuifilling their obligations, who can deny guardianship, designation of new guardians, and whether the legal guardian must pay for the living expenses of the kids.

Tong Xiaojun, deputy director of the social work research center of the China Youth University for Political Sciences, said a coordinated government department should be set up to better protect children.

A case from Nanjing was brought up to show the need for improving the system.

In September, a mother whose daughters starved to death after she had left them at home alone was sentenced to life in prison after she was found guilty of intentional homicide at Nanjing City Intermediate People's Court.

The 22-year-old mother left her daughters a little food and then locked them at home for nearly two months between April and June. The toddlers, aged one and two, were found dead by a police officer.

Legal experts said because she was pregnant, a death penalty ruling was impossible. The case raised concerns over how to improve guardianship and the rescue of abused and neglected children to avoid similar incidents.


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