Anti-human trafficking police arrested a woman in Phnom Penh on Sunday for selling her 11-month-old baby to a wealthy couple without her husband’s knowledge, while another woman was apprehended for helping broker the deal, an official said Monday.
Municipal anti-human trafficking police chief Keo Thea said To Pitay, 28, and her friend Kong Chandy, 24, were arrested in separate locations in Tuol Kok district on Sunday evening for tricking a couple into purchasing Ms. Pitay’s daughter for $800 on August 18.
“The two women cheated the business couple, saying the girl’s mother had no ability to feed the baby girl. So the couple, which wanted to have a baby, agreed to take the girl and treat it as their adopted daughter,” Mr. Thea said.
“The infant’s mother and her friend confessed to police that they sold the girl because they wanted money to spend on something fun,” he said.
Mr. Thea said his officers arrested the women after investigating a complaint filed by Ms. Pitay’s husband last week, but he declined to offer details about the complaint. The baby was returned to her father Sunday night.
The police chief said Ms. Pitay and Ms. Chandy were in the custody of his officers and would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today to face charges. According to Article 15 of the anti-human trafficking law, the act of selling, buying or exchanging a human being carries a prison sentence of between 7 and 15 years.
Mr. Thea said the couple that purchased the baby would not be prosecuted.
“We interviewed two witnesses who provided strong evidence that the couple was truly serious about having the baby as their own child,” he said.
However, Chhan Sokunthea, head of the women’s and children’s rights program for rights group Adhoc, said the couple should not be disregarded, as they failed to take proper adoption procedures.
“It’s wrong for police to only take action against the victim’s mother, but not take action against the buyers,” she said.