Cambodia sticks by tough stance on Australian surrogacies, likens practice to child trafficking
By South-East Asia correspondent Liam Cochrane Updated Fri Nov 25 06:35:24 EST 2016
The Cambodian official leading the country's crackdown on surrogacy wants prospective parents from Australia to come forward for DNA tests.
- Cambodia says Australians responsible for instigating the pregnancies should come forward
- Officials liken the practice to human trafficking
- Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles was arrested over the weekend
Representatives from the Australian embassy met with the Cambodian Government in Phnom Penh on Thursday, but made no comment as they left the meeting.
Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles was arrested last weekend, accused of running an illegal surrogacy agency and falsifying documents.
"Those responsible for the pregnancies should come forward," said Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Interior.
"He [the father] should come to apply and file documents that are acceptable to both parties [surrogate and client]," she said, using patriarchal language to refer to the intended parents.
But the message was mixed, with Ms Chou also referring to foreign surrogacy clients at times as "perpetrators" and equating the practice with human trafficking.
"What if the children are born disabled and the client won't take them or won't pay the full amount?" she asked reporters.
"This equates to child trafficking — if it's a good one it's expensive, a bad one is discounted, or maybe not taken at all — and who will be responsible if they're left behind?"
Women are being offered $13,500 to act as surrogates, the equivalent of around eight years' wages for a garment factory worker — the most common job for young Cambodian women.
The kingdom became a new frontier for low-cost surrogacy last year, when Thailand banned the trade.
'I don't want Cambodia to be taken advantage of'
The move was partly attributed to the case of Baby Gammy — a boy with Down syndrome who was left with his surrogate mother in Thailand by an Australian couple, who took his sister home.
Surrogacy under the spotlight
Ms Chou, who leads Cambodia's anti-human trafficking efforts, said the arrest of Ms Davis-Charles came after nearly a year of investigations.
"We tracked them in and out, watched their networking with clinics and doctors, and we saw the surrogate leave the clinic without the baby," she said.
"We have found more than 50 women selected to be surrogates and 23 already pregnant.
"I don't want Cambodia to be taken advantage of by this growing business, it violates the baby and child rights."
One former surrogate for an Australian couple told the ABC it was a chance to pay off debts and escape poverty.
But there are concerns about Cambodia's capacity to manage commercial surrogacy and the potential for exploitation of vulnerable women.
Posted Thu Nov 24 23:31:30 EST 2016
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