They Were Surrogates. Now They Must Raise the Children.

Hannah Beech | The New York Times | November 26, 2022

In 2018, 30 Cambodian surrogates were convicted of human trafficking, served time in prison, and gave birth while imprisoned–some chained to their beds. In exchange for suspended sentences, they have had to raise the children themselves. This journalist followed the surrogates for the last 10 months to report on their stories within Cambodia’s gray market.

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UN Call to Stop Criminalisation of Surrogates in Cambodia

By Lea Goetz | BioNews | November 18, 2019

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has condemned the decision by the Cambodian government to require that 30 surrogates, previously imprisoned for ‘cross-border human trafficking,’ raise the children they carried for intended parents living outside the country.

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Article: Thirty-Three Pregnant Cambodian Women Discovered in Surrogacy Raid

Thirty-Three Pregnant Cambodian Women Discovered in Surrogacy Raid
By Reuters | June 23, 2018

This article covers the crackdown on surrogacy in Cambodia, and the subsequent of arrest – and charge – of five people under the country’s anti-trafficking law.

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the guardianIn an update from The Guardian, the government also charged the thirty-three gestational mothers under the same law – they were not charged initially – raising potential questions about the use of regulation related to human trafficking on surrogacy.

These arrests are not the first. After Cambodia announced a ban on commercial surrogacy in 2016 while legislation was being considered, an Australian nurse and two Cambodian assistants were convicted of running an illegal commercial surrogacy clinic in the country. They were later sentenced to one and a half years in prison.

Article: Long Awaited Surrogacy Draft Law Finalized

Long Awaited Surrogacy Draft Law Finalized
By Ben Sokhean and Erin Handley | The Phnom Penh Post | March 7, 2018

This update from Cambodia covers recent attempts to regulate surrogacy in the country, citing government representatives concerned about the impact of the practice on human trafficking.

With a push towards altruistic surrogacy – and an offer from UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith to help the Cambodian government formulate a law – the article also touches on questions about the potential effectiveness and drawbacks of arrangements that are not commercial. It quotes Rodrigo Montero, gender specialist at the UN Development Program, who states that “altruistic surrogacy does not exist, it is a euphemism” and “in countries where ‘altruistic’ surrogacy is allowed we see that large amounts of money are always involved.”

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Article: Surrogacy Problem Sneaks Across the Border

Surrogacy Problem Sneaks Across the Border
By The Nation | April 25, 2017

Following up on the recent arrest of a Thai national carrying multiple vials of human semen into Laos, this editorial provides a comprehensive overview of surrogacy laws in the region.

Thailand, for example, largely permits surrogacy between blood relatives; Cambodia’s temporary guidelines, which allow foreign intended parents to legally take their children out of the country, will soon be replaced with a permanent law; and Vietnam amended its Marriage and Family Law in 2015 to only allow “altruistic surrogacy”. Their proximity – see map alongside, with Thailand represented in white – and inconsistent law positions Laos and Myanmar as the new hubs on the block.

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Article: Thai Police Arrest Man Smuggling Semen into Laos

Thai Police Arrest Man Smuggling Semen into Laos
By BBC | April 21, 2017

After India, Nepal, Thailand, and Cambodia closed their doors to international commercial surrogacy, Laos is stepping up to the front of the line.

This article covers the recent arrest of a man carrying vials of human semen destined for a fertility clinic in the country’s capital. He admits having done so 12 times in the last year, making clear, yet again, the mobility of the practice across geographical borders and its adaptive agility in the face of changing laws.

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Article: Green Light for Australians’ Surrogate Babies to Leave Cambodia

Green Light for Australians’ Surrogate Babies to Leave Cambodia
By Lindsay Murdoch | The Sydney Morning Herald | April 3, 2017

In this update from Cambodia, a number of Australian intended parents are now being allowed to leave the country with their children. To do so, they must prove a biological link to a child and obtain a gestational mother’s approval.

The article also outlines the case against Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles, who is currently in jail in Cambodia for facilitating surrogacy arrangements and charging Australian intended parents $US 50,000 per child. If sentenced, Davis-Charles could spend up to two years in prison.

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Article: Cambodia Bans Booming Commercial Surrogacy Industry

Cambodia Bans Booming Commercial Surrogacy Industry
AFP | Nov. 3, 2016

[A] government edict sent to Cambodian fertility clinics and seen by AFP on Thursday (Nov 3) said that surrogacy was now “absolutely banned”.

Cambodia has become the latest country to ban surrogacy, following a government edict sent to all fertility clinics in the country.

Phon Puthborey, spokesman for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, describes this as a “transitional period” because the country does not have a law on the books but is looking for ways to effectively implement regulation.

“We are looking for (other) possible measures to respond to the matter effectively. It could be a surrogacy law that includes protections for women and children so that they would not become victims of trafficking,” he told AFP.

The article includes comments from a representative of Families Through Surrogacy, who describes Cambodia as “the last hope” after regulation in neighboring Thailand left many intended parents with fewer options.

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Article: The Dark Side of Cambodia’s Surrogacy Boom

The Dark Side of Cambodia’s Surrogacy Boom
By Flora Bagenal | News Deeply | July 4, 2016

With bans in major hubs – India, Nepal, and Thailand – and surrogacy moving into Cambodia, this article explores the underbelly in a country rushing to fill a gap, with no laws and little preparation. It quotes a representative from a prominent surrogacy agency in Australia, concerned by the rapid growth, lack of procedure, and the potential for harm to gestational mothers. This opinion is juxtaposed with the experiences of intended parents that have traveled to Cambodia, one of whom is concerned that excessive media attention will eventually force the government to enact unsympathetic regulation.

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Article: After Nepal, Indian Surrogacy Clinics Move to Cambodia

After Nepal, Indian Surrogacy Clinics Move to Cambodia
By Nilanjana Bhowmick | Al Jazeera | June 28, 2016

“There is no legislation protecting the rights of the surrogate, child or intended parents … The ban [in India] will push intended parents to engage in far riskier places like Cambodia, where there is a serious lack of medical support services, such as neonatal care units.” – Sam Everingham, Families through Surrogacy

This article follows surrogacy’s expansion into Cambodia, after recent legal crackdowns in the region. With ongoing legislative attempts in India as backdrop, it focuses on the rise of clinics originally from India and Nepal, the movement of gestational mothers from these countries as well as Laos and Thailand into Cambodia, and the implications on risks and the human rights of the women involved.

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