Officials are seeking the foreign couples who hired Cambodian women to give birth to their babies through a recently arrested broker, saying they will be allowed to take the children home as long as they step forward and take responsibility for them.
Australian nurse Tammy Davis-Charles and two of her Cambodian associates were arrested and charged this week after officials found they had hired 23 women to carry the babies of other parents. Five have already given birth.
On Thursday, Chou Bun Eng, secretary-general of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking and sexual exploitation committee, said the focus had shifted from cracking down on the brokers to trying to care for the pregnant women.
“We want to see responsibility. If the babies leave the country with good parents and care, we won’t mind it,” Ms. Bun Eng said. “We want to know where these women are. They are hiding because they have seen our crackdown.”
The identities of the foreign couples were not yet known, she said. The pregnant women were not told who their babies’ biological parents were, and the arrested brokers had yet to reveal their clients’ identities, Ms. Bun Eng said.
Suspecting that several of the parents are Australian, Cambodian officials met with NGO representatives and Australian Embassy officers on Thursday for two hours, she said.
“If they are Australian nationals and living in Australia, it is really important that the Australian party helps,” Ms. Bun Eng said.
“They said it was not connected to Australian law, but this is a contract between one person and another,” she told reporters after the closed-door meeting. “Those who agreed to carry the babies are Cambodian and those who want children are Australian, so there is a responsibility to be held by both parties.”
Australian Embassy officials did not respond to requests for comment.