Tuesday, September 27

Indonesian police bust Instagram baby trafficking racket


JAKARTA: Indonesia has busted a child-trafficking ring that offered babies for sale on Instagram, arresting four people including a potential buyer from the resort island of Bali, police said yesterday.

Police began investigating after finding suspicious social media posts offering adoption services for mothers who gave birth to children out of wedlock, police said.

A man accused of operating the Instagram account and a 22-year-old mother who allegedly put her child up for adoption were both arrested last week, East Java police spokesperson Frans Barung Mangera told AFP.

A midwife and the potential buyer were also arrested when police intercepted the sale last week in Surabaya city.

Police said the mother wanted to sell her 11-month-old third child because she was in debt.

“The baby was sold for 15 million rupiah (US$990),” Surabaya Police criminal investigations chief Sudamiran told a press conference on Tuesday.

“According to (the mother’s) statement, the baby was the result of an affair,” said Sudamiran, who like many Indonesians has only one name.

Giving birth out of wedlock is highly stigmatised in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, and single mothers are sometimes shunned by their family.

The Instagram account’s operator was to have pocketed RP2.5 million from the baby’s sale, police said.

The account was still active yesterday with more than 760 followers.

It had posted dozens of black and white photos of ultrasounds and mothers whose faces were partially obscured to hide their identity.

The page claims to offer ‘family solutions’ and lists the personal details of women offering to sell their child, including their age, religion, stage of pregnancy and health. Potential adopters were asked to contact account administrators via WhatsApp.

The four suspects face up to 15 years in prison under Indonesia’s child protection law. — AFP