Beijing: China has outlawed a practice in which parents kidnap and conceal their own children in a bid to get sole custody. Over the past few years, tens of thousands of children have been abducted and hidden, reports The New York Times.
The kidnappings rose with the divorce rate. By one estimate, fathers are behind 60% of the apprehensions. The abductions involve mostly sons younger than six, reflecting the traditional emphasis on boys as carriers of the family name.
Chinese custody battles are notoriously acrimonious. Courts rarely grant joint custody, and judges often opt to keep children in their existing living environment. Some abductions are part of a broader pattern of domestic violence, which affects about one in three families.
In 2019, experts estimate that parents hid about 80,000 children. Many say the figures are most likely higher.
“It’s become almost a game — whoever has physical custody has legal custody,” said one advocate. “It’s a free-for-all.”