Cam­bo­dia ar­rests Aussie nurse over sur­ro­gacy crack­down

The Myanmar Times - - World -

AN Aus­tralian nurse and fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist has been ar­rested for al­legedly run­ning an il­le­gal sur­ro­gacy ser­vice in Cam­bo­dia, the coun­try’s anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing police said.

The ar­rest was made just weeks af­ter Cam­bo­dia be­came the lat­est to ban com­mer­cial sur­ro­gacy.

Tammy Davis-Charles, 49, was ar­rested along with two Cam­bo­di­ans dur­ing a raid on a rented house in Ph­nom Penh, Police Colonel Keo Thea, head of the Anti-Hu­man Traf­fick­ing Of­fice, said.

“She has been ar­rested for be­ing an in­ter­me­di­ary in sur­ro­gacy and for fal­si­fy­ing doc­u­ments,” he said.

“Aus­tralians who wanted kids would con­tact her and she would charge US$50,000 for each re­quest.”

Mr Keo Thea said Ms Davis-Charles had moved to Cam­bo­dia from Thai­land for more than a year, adding she ar­ranged for some 23 Cam­bo­dian women to carry ba­bies for Aus­tralian cou­ples.

“Five ba­bies have been born,” he said, adding that the Cam­bo­dian girls re­ceived be­tween $10,000 and $12,000 in each case.

Ms Davis-Charles, who is from Mel­bourne, was sent to court yes­ter­day for ques­tion­ing.

She could face up to two years in jail if con­victed, Mr Keo Thea said, adding it was the first ar­rest for sur­ro­gacy in Cam­bo­dia.

Ear­lier this month Cam­bo­dia banned com­mer­cial sur­ro­gacy, af­ter curbs on the in­dus­try in other parts of the globe sparked a lo­cal boom in the un­reg­u­lated baby busi­ness.

Sur­ro­gacy agen­cies started spring­ing up in the na­tion af­ter for­mer hubs like Thai­land and In­dia blocked for­eign­ers from the ser­vices fol­low­ing a flurry of scandals and con­cerns about ex­ploita­tion.

With cheap med­i­cal costs and no laws ex­clud­ing gay cou­ples or sin­gle par­ents, Cam­bo­dia quickly ab­sorbed much of the de­mand.

But a govern­ment edict sent to Cam­bo­dian fer­til­ity clin­ics ear­lier this month said that sur­ro­gacy was now “ab­so­lutely banned”.

The procla­ma­tion, signed by the health min­is­ter last week, asked all med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als to com­ply with the in­junc­tion, though it did not spell out a le­gal pun­ish­ment.

Cam­bo­dia now boasts some 50 sur­ro­gacy agents, a num­ber of which cropped up in the past year, according to ex­perts.

Bangkok’s mil­i­tary govern­ment passed a law ban­ning for­eign cou­ples from us­ing Thai women as sur­ro­gates last year af­ter a series of con­tro­ver­sies – in­clud­ing tus­sles over cus­tody – tainted the lu­cra­tive in­dus­try. –

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