The police break into two apartments in the capital, arresting five people. The accusations are "trafficking in human beings" and "intermediation in surrogate motherhood". The clinics (legal and otherwise) of Southeast Asia are increasingly looking to China: 90 million couples have become eligible to have a second child.
Phnom Penh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - They were carrying children on behalf of Chinese customers, willing to pay thousands of US dollars: Phnom Penh security forces discovered 33 Cambodian women during an operation against surrogacy. The police announced the operation today, adding that the raids of two apartments in the capital two days ago led to the arrest of five people: four Cambodian women and one Chinese citizen.
Although surrogate motherhood for commercial purposes is illegal since 2016, Cambodia remains a popular destination for infertile couples seeking to have children. Keo Thea, director of the anti-trafficking office in Phnom Penh, said: "The authorities have indicted people arrested for 'trafficking in human beings' and 'surrogacy motherhood'." The official adds that pregnant women "will not have to answer for any charges at the moment".
Keo Thea reveals that each mother " was promised 10 thousand US dollars". However, once pregnant, each woman received $ 500. After the delivery and handing over of the child, the terms of the agreement provided for 300 dollars a month, until the agreed amount is reached. The criminal network had already completed 20 pregnancies. "Some children were born in China, others in Cambodia," says the official.
In Southeast Asia, clinics (legal and otherwise) are increasingly looking to China. Here it is estimated that 90 million couples have become eligible to have a second child, after the one-child policy was relaxed in 2015. There is no official data on the number of Chinese children born to surrogate mothers. Experts estimate about 10,000 each year, but the number could be much higher.
Countries like Thailand and India prevent foreigners from accessing commercial surrogacy services. Bangkok banned the lucrative trade in 2015, following a series of scandals and custody conflicts. Surrogacy agencies moved quickly to neighboring Cambodia, which followed suit and banned the industry the following year. In recent months there have been signs suggesting that the surrogacy market has moved to Laos, a country with no restrictions.