Cambodia-bound surrogates stopped
Four women on their way to Phnom Penh have been detained at Manila’s international airport for being prospective surrogate mothers, which could indicate that the practice is still operational in Cambodia despite the government banning it last year.
According to the Dubai-based Gulf News, the four women from the Philippines, along with a Philippine recruiter, were arrested on Tuesday as they were headed to Cambodia via Bangkok.
Upon their arrival in Phnom Penh, Gulf News reported that they were to be picked up by a Cambodian “who made an arrangement with foreigners to father the babies.”
This was despite the government cracking down on commercial surrogacy in Cambodia by arresting surrogacy clinic founder Tammy Davis-Charles along with two employees who had reportedly signed at least 25 surrogacy agreements, according to Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
Gulf News quoted Philippine Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente as saying that commercial surrogacy was a new form of human trafficking there as the women, especially those living in poverty, were tempted by large payouts without fully understanding the risks.
“This is a new modus operandi of a human trafficking syndicate that preys on our Filipino women, who are enticed to bear the children of strangers for a fee, because of their poverty. We cannot allow this to happen,” he said.
It is unclear if the four women detained were expected to give birth in Cambodia, but according to the report, they were to carry babies fathered by a German, Nigerian, Australian and Chinese national respectively.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the women were reportedly promised about $10,000 to be surrogates.
The women also revealed during questioning that another group of would-be surrogates was to leave from the Philippines, but did not disclose a departure date. It is also unclear if the second group of women were headed for Cambodia.
Cambodian Interior Ministry immigration department spokesperson Kem Sarin said he was unaware that four would-be surrogates were heading for Cambodia, but added that immigration officers were trained to detect such women, just as they were trained to detect victims of human trafficking.
“They do get training. On human trafficking and people smuggling, they’ve been trained to inspect and on how to question them and how to do take action and movement at the border. They’ve been trained according to international standards,” he said.
Ms. Davis-Charles of Fertility Solutions PGD was accused of creating fraudulent documents and of acting as an intermediary between adoptive parents and pregnant women.
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