Selling Babies Big Business In One North Jakarta Slum

By Ulma Haryanto

February 16, 2010 / thejakartaglobe.com

The recent case of an unborn baby being put up for sale by its parents in order to make ends meet was most likely driven by a child-trafficking syndicate and deserved intense police investigation, the National Commission for Child Protection said on Tuesday.

“A total of 25 babies were sold by their parents in just one neighborhood in Jakarta alone, according to a recent discovery,” Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary general of the commission, also known as Komnas Anak, told the Jakarta Globe.

“In another instance, a baby at a city clinic was abducted with the help of staff from inside the clinic. It shows how well organized this operation is.”

Arist was referring to research done by the Kampung Beting Villagers Forum, a nongovernmental organization based at Beting Remaja village in Tugu Utara, North Jakarta. The forum said on Monday that it had evidence showing at least 25 babies had been sold by villagers in Beting Remaja since 1990.

“They all said they had been driven by poverty, and that they could not afford the medical fees for the delivery of the babies,” said Ricardo Hutahean, who heads the forum. “They claim they never saw this as part of the modus operandi used by child traffickers.”

North Jakarta Police detectives are currently questioning a 24-year-old woman, whose identity has been withheld, for allegedly attempting to sell her unborn child. The woman could be charged with violating the 2007 Law on the Eradication of Human Trafficking and the 2002 Law on Child Protection.

According to news portal Beritajakarta.com, a couple from Beting Remaja, identified as Haris Rifana, 37, and Dini Yulianti, 24, recently attempted to sell their unborn child. Dini was reportedly eight months pregnant.

The couple told the Web site that they had previously “let go” of two of their six children. The first one was sold to a wealthy couple in 1995 and the second in 2000.

“We needed the money and they had it, and they said that they could not have children of their own,” Dini said. “So they are taking care of our children — we don’t think it was wrong.”

The report said Dini and her husband were buskers and had only asked for “medical fees” to deliver the babies, ranging from between Rp 500,000 and Rp 1 million ($55 and $110).

Arist said that he believed child traffickers were exploiting poor families by convincing them that having babies and giving them away for money was normal.

“They probably never realized that what they were doing was criminal,” he said.

He said Komnas Anak would cooperate with the Jakarta Social Affairs Agency, the Jakarta Police, village heads and local communities to educate residents of the city’s slums about the dangers of child trafficking.

“This has to be put to a stop. For whatever reason, giving away a child in exchange for money is against existing regulations and one’s religious beliefs,” Arist said.

“The police are also currently investigating a number of people, including couples who have admitted to selling their babies, in order to track down the buyers.”

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