The thirty-two Cambodian women charged with human trafficking since joining an illegal surrogacy ring have been released from detention after taking a vow that they will keep their babies and not give them away or sell them.
It is the latest turn of events in the surrogacy saga, which began in July when the women were charged with violating surrogacy and human trafficking laws.
Bun Samkhan, a spokeswoman for the National Committee for Counter-Trafficking, said the surrogates were all released on bail in three groups.
“We have told them clearly that these babies belong to you, so you have to take care of them until they grow up, and not sell them,” said Samkhan.
“And they agreed.”
ABC News reports:
A senior police officer who works at the same agency, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly, said the women were released on humanitarian grounds.
He said they had committed crimes but their babies are innocent, and for that reason the committee requested that the court free them. They had been held at a police hospital.
The identifies of the fathers have not been released.
Acting as an intermediary between an adoptive parent and a pregnant woman carries a penalty of one to six months in prison. The human trafficking offense is punishable by seven to 15 years’ imprisonment.
The Chinese owner and four Cambodian women accused of managing the illegal surrogacy business were also charged for the same crimes.
The surrogates say they were offered as much as $10,000, though in 2016 Cambodia passed a law targeting the trend of foreigners coming to the country to hire local surrogates.
In July of last year, a Cambodian court sentenced an Australian woman and two Cambodian associates to 1.5 years in prison for providing commercial surrogacy services.