See: abduction
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But the stereotype of the child-stealing Gypsy has been reawakened since last week when a Roma couple in Greece were jailed on accusations that they had abducted a blond, green-eyed child called Maria -- dubbed "the blond angel'' in the Greek media.
The story begins with traditional tales of djinns, demons and child-stealing monsters narrated by poverty-stricken father Saboor, who has to make the difficult choice of whether to give away his 3-year-old daughter Pari to a wealthy family.
Over the past 20 years, she has been finding and collecting stories from native people across North American very similar to the ones she knew from California about child-stealing giants with a basket on their back--cannibal giants, hairy monsters, and human-like beings that lived in the woods.
Spookily though, she suddenly found her head racing with the same thoughts her character had upon tearily discovering she was now going to have to eat for two, in addition to fending of the global threat of alien attackers in the slimy form of child-stealing nasties, the 456.
I visited that agency, and my editors and I wrestled with the question of whether to name it here; there are serious questions about the conduct of US adoption agencies in child-stealing cases that should be addressed openly.
At present, child-stealing only gets a penalty of three years, which is nothing.
As if parodying the Hollywood thriller commonplace of the intuitive detective experiencing lightning-bolt revelations, he excitedly babbles, "He's here, he's right here," convinced that his unknown enemy--a child-stealing Erl-King of his own making--is watching from nearby.
While the image of the paedophile can be understood as an unbearable aspect of a culture that allows the consumption of others, the fears of an 'epidemic of abuse' and responses to reports of child-stealing after the tsunami cannot be reduced to moral panic.
Child-stealing is an extremely common phenomenon, but seldom named as the ugly thing it is; instead, it is often disguised as something unavoidable and benign, if not absolutely virtuous.