03/02/2011, 00.00
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Thai organisation involved in trafficking in Vietnamese surrogate mothers uncovered

by Weena Kowitwanij
The ‘Baby 101’ company rented uteri and sold babies online. The surrogate mothers were all from Vietnam; they were paid about US$ 5,000 per baby. They should be home in Vietnam by next week.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Police in Bangkok uncovered a Thai organisation that was forcing Vietnamese women to have babies for sale. Law enforcement officers acted after some of the women contacted the Vietnamese Embassy telling them about their situation. Members of the ‘Baby 101’ company are now under arrest charged with human trafficking. For Thai Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, this “business” was illegal and inhuman, akin to rape. The women rented their uterus for money because they came from very poor families.

“The Baby 101 company hired women to have babies. Orders were taken online, via e-mail or by telephone,” said Police Major General Pansak Kaseamsant, who is also deputy commissioner of the Immigration Bureau. Photos showing good-looking donors, elegant houses and luxury clinics with gardens and swimming pools were posted on the website. Buyers were foreign couples who could not have children.

Minister Laksanawisit met one such “mother” in a hospital in Minburi province. “The woman is 31. She confessed that she rented her uterus for US$ 5,500. Her family is very poor and she was promised easy money,” he said.

In their pitch, Baby 101 company officials told the women that the practice was legal. In reality, when the women arrived in Thailand, the company would take away their passports, and threaten them that if they changed their minds they would have to pay a thousand dollar charge.

Traffic victims are now safely housed at the Kredtrakarn Protection and Occupational Development Centre in Nonthaburi province. They were recently visited by Thailand’s Social Development and Human Security Minister Issara Somachai.

“Fifteen Vietnamese women are at Baan Kredtrakarn. Seven are pregnant. Two have already delivered. One baby is a month old; the other is just seven days. Six more women are there but are not pregnant,” the minister said. “These women want to go back to Vietnam with the children. They all say that this is the first experience as surrogate mothers.”

Yesterday Health Minister Laksanawisit met representatives of the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, the Medical Council and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Thailand to determine the women’s fate.

At the end of the meeting, the minister issued a statement. “These mothers,” he said, “will be sent home next week in cooperation with the Thai Foreign Ministry and the Embassy of Vietnam in Thailand in accordance with the memorandum of understanding between Thailand and Vietnam.”

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