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Slave labor has been an ongoing problem in China, where labor rights have suffered at the expense of economic pursuits. On Sunday, Henan media reported the latest case. Men with severe mental disabilities being forced to work in brick kilns, where they're beaten and starved. Similar cases were exposed last year and in 2007.
More slave labor has been discovered in China's central Henan Province. The victims—men who suffer from severe mental disabilities, were found working under deplorable conditions at brick kilns. Eight people were detained in relation to the case.
Henan media first exposed the problem on Sunday and alerted authorities. Since then, 30 mentally disabled men have been rescued. Some have worked at the brick kilns for as long as seven years. They endured beatings, starvation and received no pay for their work. Many were kidnapped and sold to kiln owners. Others were tricked into going there.
Labor rights in China have struggled to keep pace with economic development. Lawyer Jiang Tianyong has worked with victims of slave labor from Shanxi Province, and says it's a prevalent problem.
[Jiang Tianyong, Chinese Rights Lawyer]:
"Areas around Henan and Zhengzhou continue to have problems like this. This includes the brick kilns in Shanxi Province. In fact, slave labor in brick kilns is present in many places around the country."
Henan was home to a major labor scandal in 2007, where thousands were found to be working in brick kilns with no pay. Lawyer Jiang says the problem has been hard to tackle because of a lack of dedication from authorities.