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.
In 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.