Cambodia: 32 paid surrogate mothers are released after they agree to keep babies

Author: BBC, Published on: 9 December 2018

"Cambodia releases surrogate mothers who agree to keep children", 6 December 2018

Thirty-two surrogate mothers charged with human trafficking in Cambodia for carrying babies for Chinese clients have been released after agreeing to keep the children, officials say.

The women were arrested … in a raid as part of a crackdown on the country's commercial surrogacy trade.

Surrogacy was banned in Cambodia in 2016, a year after neighbouring Thailand imposed limits on the service…

A further five people, including a Chinese national, have been arrested and charged with human trafficking in connection with the case.

The release of the Cambodian surrogate mothers … was agreed on "humanitarian grounds", a police official working with the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT) said.

The official, who asked not to be named, said that while the women had committed a crime, their babies were innocent, and for that reason the NCCT had requested their freedom on condition…

Cambodia's Secretary of State for the Interior Ministry, Chou Bun Eng, told … that the government rejects the idea that any embryo carried by a mother is not "her own"…

She added that surrogacy is now seen as a form of human trafficking in Cambodia because the children, who she said were the victims, are sold as "goods"…

Besides commercial surrogacy, Cambodia has also banned organ trafficking and the export of breast milk.

Other countries that have imposed a ban on commercial surrogacy include India, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark and the UK.

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