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Pregnant Filipino woman sold unborn child to Maltese parents


Friday 19 August 2011 - 07:16

Pregnant Filipino woman sold unborn child to Maltese parents

Malta has been named as a country of destination for pregnant Filipino women who give up their newborn for adoption, according to a government minister of the Philippines.

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Filipino surrogate mothers are being described as a 'new form of human trafficking' by the Philippines' social welfare ministry.

Social Welfare Undersecretary Alicia Bala disclosed this newest form of child trafficking at the 11th Global Consultation on Child Welfare Services in Makati City.

Pregnant Filipino women are recruited to travel overseas legally as tourists, then sell their newborns to waiting adoptive parents, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said.

Bala said that two cases had so far been reported—one in Austria two years ago and another in Malta last year, Tarra Quismudo writes in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Speaking about the latest case in Malta, Bala said: “The mother who’s pregnant [was] sponsored to go to that place with the intent of having the child adopted.”

“This is a form of trafficking… Our attention was called by Malta authorities,” she told reporters.

The mother has returned to the Philippines, but her child is now undergoing procedure for adoptive parents to keep the baby in custody. “This is just one instance but, who knows, there may be other cases that are not brought to our attention. It is a prearranged plan of giving birth there, then they give the baby up. They don’t keep the baby because there is already that intention to have the baby adopted abroad,” Bala said.

As the mothers are able to exit the country legally, such cases are hard to detect unless reported by the receiving country, Bala said.

“You can’t stop anyone from travelling. There’s no reason for immigration agents to be suspicious about why a pregnant woman is going overseas. Maybe there’s a facilitator here,” Bala said.

Malta on trafficking watch list

The report surfaced after the Philippines overcame its status as among nations in the United States’ Tier 2 human trafficking watch list.

Malta now appears on the Tier 2 ‘Watch List’ along with – among others – Russia, Afghanistan and Belarus: the Watch List signifies that they do not comply with US norms and while they are making significant efforts to do so, there is little or no evidence that these efforts are proving effective. The report recommends that Malta punishes human trafficking offenders more harshly. In the case of Malta it suggests, among other measures, that it should do more to identify victims and that it should punish them less.

Malta is currently engaged in a Human Trafficking Action to fight trafficking, prosecute offenders and protect victims.

Pakistani adoption ring

In 2006, a Maltese national was imprisoned for seven years in Karachi for smuggling newborn infants to Malta. A preliminary inquiry by Judge Javed Qureshi in the Pakistani capital of Karachi had found that a Maltese adoption ring had taken some 100 Pakistani infants to Malta between 1998 and 2001. However this figure was claimed to be 39 by the Maltese ministry of social policy in 2006.

The children had been allegedly bought from poverty-stricken parents by a Maltese couple – Dennis and Concetta Charles – who had their house in Gulshan-I-Iqbal district raided in March 2002, where 11 infants had been found.

2011 Aug 19