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Ranchi, India — Police in India have arrested a woman working at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity for allegedly selling a 14-day old baby, while two other employees at the charity have been detained and questioned regarding other potential cases of black market baby trafficking.

The BBC reported that a complaint registered with the Indian state of Jharkhand’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC) led to the arrest and detainment of the charity’s employees.

“We have found out that some other babies have also been illegally sold from the centre,” a police official told the BBC. “We have obtained the names of the mothers of these babies and are further investigating.”

Mother Theresa, who died in 1997, founded the Missionaries Charity in 1950 — which has more than 3,000 nuns worldwide — set up hospices, soup kitchens, schools, leper colonies and homes for abandoned children across the world.

While the Missionaries of Charity still run centers for unmarried pregnant women, they no longer arrange adoptions.

A report by the BBC explained:

Legally adopting a baby in India can take from a few months to years. Each year, only a few thousand adoptions are formalised – a fraction of the number of those wanting to adopt. Informal estimates of the number of children who are abandoned or unwanted run into tens of thousands.

In October 2015, the government changed the rules. It took the system online, with a national database of available children. Supporters say this made the process faster and more transparent and allowed prospective parents to find children anywhere in the country.

But some adoption agencies opposed the changes, which reduced their involvement in the process of matching couples and children. The Missionaries of Charity ended its own involvement because it opposed adoptions to single women or unmarried couples.

Cultural stigma about adoption within Indian society, which traditionally utilized informal arrangements within extended families, has created concerns that couples may bypass the legal system altogether and due to ease adopt directly from hospitals or orphanages, or even turn to the black market.

There were only 3,011 legal adoptions in India in 2015-2016 financial year, against a waiting list of 12,000 couples. In turn, many prospective parents turn to the black market to buy babies illegally due to the long wait times and stringent laws to adopt.

There are major concerns that this cultural/social phenomena, of spurning the legal adoption system, only serves to embolden child trafficking.

“We are currently investigating the sale of a newborn baby to a couple in Uttar Pradesh for 120,000 rupees,” CWC chairman Rupa Kumari told the BBC.

“But the couple was told that the money was for hospital expenses.”

A young woman, who arrived at the Missionary for Charity center on March 19, had her child sold to the couple on May 15, according to Ms. Kumari. Thirteen pregnant women were subsequently transferred out of the missionary’s Ranchi center by CWC.

Kumari said the committee had uncovered information that indicated that there were other babies that had been sold in different Indian cities as well.

Time and time again the Free Thought Project has exposed the horrors resulting from the child trafficking trade. While the Indian cultural phenomena of arranged private adoptions has traditional roots, the current paradigm almost certainly allows for bad actors to exploit children that subsequently fall through the cracks.

While the baby was actually sold to a family that wanted to adopt, what if the buyer was not so benevolent? Without a process in place to have accountability and transparency, the system in place is primed to be exploited by global child sex traffickers.

Indeed, as TFTP has reported in the past, the practice of selling babies exists even inside the United States.

When it comes to surrogacy laws in the United States, Washington is proving to be a third world country. Over the years, as countries have legalized “commercial surrogacy,” once they realize the horrors that it creates, they proceed to ban it as it creates a market for children to be bought and sold like commodities with no oversight as to where the babies end up.

After watching children being openly sold to human traffickers, in 2015, both Thailand and Nepal banned the act. In 2016, Mexico also banned commercial surrogacy, followed by India last year, and Cambodia this year. 

The bans are a result of watching what happens when such laws are in place as it quite literally legalizes the buying and selling of children and creates a market for human trafficking. In spite of these bans, however, the “baby buyers” don’t go away, they just move their lobbying to other markets—and now, their sights have been set on America.


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Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis.