Page URL:

Cambodian raid finds 33 pregnant surrogates, with trafficking charges brought

2 July 2018
Appeared in BioNews 956

Police in Cambodia have discovered 33 pregnant women who were working as part of an illegal surrogacy operation in Phnom Penh.

The women are not currently facing criminal charges but five other people have been arrested in connection with the operation, including a Chinese man believed to be in charge.

Phnom Penh anti-trafficking police chief, Keo Thea, told Reuters: 'They are carrying babies for Chinese nationals.' He also described the details of the operation, including how surrogates were lured into the scheme with the promise of making US$10,000. The women were each paid US$500 after becoming pregnant, with an additional US$300 per month paid after the babies were delivered.

Surrogacy services were made illegal in Cambodia in 2016 after the country began attracting wealthy foreigners looking for women to carry their children. It followed similar bans in neighbouring countries such as Thailand (see BioNews 876).

Developing countries including Cambodia are popular among would-be parents looking for surrogacy services, as the prices as much lower than in developed nations, where surrogacy can cost as much as US$150,000.

The pregnant surrogates are now under the care of the Social Welfare Ministry, while Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophana said that the five organisers had been formally charged with two counts of trafficking under the new laws. In Cambodia 'the act of selling, buying or exchanging a person for cross-border transfer' is punishable by between seven and 15 years in prison.

The case follows similar incidents of illegal surrogacy in Cambodia. In July last year, an Australian woman and two Cambodian collaborators were each sentenced to 18 months in prison for running a surrogacy ring (see BioNews 912). 

Speaking to The Guardian, Rodrigo Montero, gender adviser at the United Nations Development Programme, implied the case was bittersweet. While it proves the law is being enforced, it also suggests it is still being broken. 'The bad news is that it proves that a hidden international surrogacy industry is still operating in Cambodia,' said Montero.

Cambodia: 33 pregnant women found in raid on child surrogacy ring
The Guardian |  23 June 2018
Human trafficking charge added to Cambodian surrogacy case
ABC News |  28 June 2018
Thirty-three pregnant Cambodian women discovered in surrogacy raid
Reuters |  23 June 2018
18 November 2019 - by Dr Lea Goetz 
The UN has called on Cambodia to repeal the criminalisation of surrogates...
10 December 2018 - by Dr Eleanor Lynam 
Thirty-two Cambodian women charged with human trafficking for acting as surrogates have been released on bail on the condition that they keep the children...
19 November 2018 - by Dr Melanie Krause 
A total of 18 people, including 11 pregnant women, arrested in Cambodia have been charged with offences relating to human trafficking for allegedly engaging in surrogacy for foreign couples...
3 September 2018 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Nearly 30 Spanish families are unable to leave Ukraine with their surrogate-born infants, as they are unable to register the births with the Spanish Consular Civil Registry of the Spanish Embassy in Kiev...
6 August 2018 - by Dr Melanie Krause 
'A choice without a choice: surrogacy or prostitution.' This statement from doctor Olga Gajovic, a Ukrainian feminist and activist, to me is probably the most memorable piece of the Boston Calling episode 'Baby guaranteed' on BBC World Service...
26 February 2018 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A court in Thailand has awarded a Japanese man paternity rights over 13 children born through surrogacy, meaning that can now apply for custody of them...
29 August 2017 - by Taqdeer Sidhu 
Commercial surrogacy will be permanently banned in Cambodia if a new law drafted by Women's Affairs Ministry is approved...
7 August 2017 - by Jen Willows 
An Australian nurse has been given a prison sentence after being found guilty of running an illegal surrogacy service in Cambodia...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.