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20 Oct 2018 17:56
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  •   Home > News > International

    Indonesian baby traffickers arrested after using Instagram and Whatsapp to broker deals

    Four people are arrested after allegedly selling babies via Instagram in Indonesia, according to local police who intercepted a transaction early last month.

    Four people have been arrested after allegedly selling babies via Instagram in Indonesia, according to local police who say they intercepted a transaction last month.

    The accused include the man who managed the Instagram account, a midwife, the 22-year-old mother, and a buyer, police told local media during a press conference this week.

    "We identified a mother who wanted to sell her baby via an Instagram account," police officer Sudamiran, of the Surabaya police department, said.

    "The transaction took place through [encrypted chat platform] Whatsapp, and the baby was sold in Bali."

    Police said the brokers had been involved in two other cases of baby trafficking and sold each of them for about $1,300.

    The Instagram account — that police believe is a front for baby trafficking — posed as a family welfare agency site, offering consultation to solve family and pregnancy problems.

    During the arrest, police rescued the 11-month-old baby.

    'I don't want my family to know'

    The Instagram account with more than 750 followers regularly posted photos of blurred babies in black and white with a list of details — each post began with the heading "save our soul".

    One such post read: "Age: 24. Pregnancy: 7 months. Reason: Economic and other children are still young. Special requests for adopter: covering all caesarean expenses, willing to take care and love the baby."

    Other reasons stated on the list included an "irresponsible partner".

    The account also features screenshots of Whatsapp conversations between mothers and the 'agency' asking for advice.

    "I'm seven months pregnant, out of wedlock. I'm planning to find someone who wants to adopt my baby … I don't want my family to know," one screenshot posted on the account reads.

    An old practice with new digital platforms

    Indonesia's National Commission for Child Protection told the ABC the act was a crime against humanity.

    "It's absolutely an awful, horrendous crime for adults to take benefits by selling children," Aris Merdeka Sirait, the chairman of the commission, said.

    Mr Sirait said that although baby and child trafficking had existed in Indonesia for decades, selling through Instagram was a new model.

    "But the motives of the sellers remain the same, it's a mix between financial challenges and the hardship of having kids," he said.

    "There's a tendency that it is done by teenagers and young adults because they deliver unwanted babies — for example, babies born out of wedlock but they can't abort the pregnancy."

    Abortion is illegal in Indonesia unless the mother's life is in endanger or in some cases, if the mother was raped.

    Mr Sirait said these laws can trigger young women to seek alternative solutions, one of which is selling their babies.

    "What we can learn from this recent, unfortunate event is that we need a national act involving all stakeholders, so this can be anticipated and prevented in the future," Mr Sirait said.

    While the Government already had several programs to protect abandoned children, Mr Sirait said improvements and more comprehensive policies were needed.

    "It's the Government's responsibility to provide services for children whose rights may have been abused."


    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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