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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Babies being sold by hungry parents

Babies being sold by hungry parents



Ching Pheach, 53, holds his new baby, unnamed as yet, whom he bought for 30,000 riel from the child's destitute natural mother in Kampong Thom on Oct 10.

HUMAN rights groups in the provinces are warning that

poverty and hunger are forcing some parents to give up

their children - many of whom end up in brothels.

But for one 7-month- old boy, his outlook is considerably



His 25-year-old mother took the boy to Kampong Thom

market when she realized she could no longer feed her


On October 10 she offered him for sale for 20,000


At that point his future became a lottery but one of

the market sellers, Ching Pheach, took an interest in the

boy and offered to bring him up.

He said he had never thought of buying a child but it

seemed to him that it was the right thing to do for

several reasons.

"I had no plan to buy a human for smuggling. So

why did I buy this boy? Because I have no children. Not

even one.

"According to the Buddhist way this boy will have

good fortune with me."

He said he also believed that bring up the boy and

giving money to the family will gain him merit.

"According to the Buddhist Dhama of fate, I am

one of the men who saved people's lives so I will achieve

a lot of merit, and I saved their family, and will also

educate him to be a good man in the future," he


Pheach added that there was also a very personal

reason for wanting to bring up the child.

"In 1994 my wife gave birth to a boy and he died

three days later.

"I think that this boy," he said, indicating

his new, as yet unnamed son, " is my child who died

but has now come back to live with me - even thought he

was born to a different mother.

"So I concluded that this boy is my son who died

in 1994."

He said he would be naming his new son at some time in

the future, after the boy had been with the family longer

and had remained healthy.

Pheach said he was keen to see that everything was

done properly so he and the boy's natural mother signed a

contract which said that she would give the child over to

"Uncle Pheach" because she was having trouble


The contract also stipulated that the mother would

take back responsibility for the child if anything

happened to his adopted family.

Though Pheach said he would do everything he could for

his new son, he did acknowledge this promise despite the

fact that his business - selling buffalo harnesses and

leads - "was not going so well" at present.

Chap Mil, a deputy chief of Stung district, said that

in his area of control there were no families selling

their children.

But, he admitted, some were farming their children out

to friends and relatives better able to care for them.

Meanwhile in another case Lim Vunny, 45, a teacher of

Slaket primary school, Kampong Thom province said she was

one of the people who had bought children from poor

villagers who were trying to sell them on the street.

She said that she had four boys but no girl so she

decided to buy the girl.

"Myself, I have four boys but I want to have a

daughter because the girls are closer to their parents

than are the boys and she can look after her parents when

we are old," she said.



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