A total of 14 Vietnamese women -- half of them pregnant -- have been rescued from an "illegal and inhuman" surrogate baby breeding ring in Thailand, the AFP is reporting.
The company, called Baby 101, allegedly received orders by e-mail or via agents from childless couples offering thousands of dollars per newborn. In some cases, the male partner would also provide sperm to inseminate the women, who were being held in two houses in Bangkok and had their passports confiscated.
"Nine of the women said they had volunteered to work because they were told they would earn $5,000 for each baby," deputy immigration commander Major General Manu Mekmok is quoted as saying. "Four said they were tricked." Officials said four Taiwanese, one Chinese and three Myanmar nationals were arrested in connection with the business and charged with illegally working in Thailand. In addition, a 35-year-old Taiwanese woman, who police said ran the operation, has been charged with human trafficking.
The surrogacy service, from egg and sperm donation to the delivery of a baby, is advertised on the website believed to be run by the company for $32,000 plus other expenses. Nearly 40 women, who are identified only by a numbered code, are pictured in various poses on the site.
Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said those women carrying children would be cared for in a private hospital. "In some cases it looks like they were raped," he noted to the AFP.