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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Coming to terms: Our award-winning series on surrogacy in Cambodia

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Bopha (name changed), who acted as a surrogate mother for a Dutch couple, pictured in Kampong Speu province in January. Heng Chivoan

Coming to terms: Our award-winning series on surrogacy in Cambodia

The Post on Thursday took top honours in the 'Excellence in Reporting on Women’s Issues' category at the annual SOPA awards.

The society praised our "compelling" and "incredibly well reported" series on the murky ethics and human impact of the Kingdom's burgeoning commercial surrogacy industry and the subsequent government crackdown on it.

Read the stories below:

The billion dollar babies
2 January 2016

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Embryos fertilised at the Fertility Clinic of Cambodia. Charlotte Pert

Any day now, Cambodia’s first baby conceived in a test tube and implanted in a rented womb will be born in a Phnom Penh maternity ward.

The names of the intended parents are not known, nor that of the local surrogate. It is not known which agency is being used, or who and how much was paid.

In fact, nobody really knows if the procedure is even legal in Cambodia. Read more

As surrogacy industry expands, legal and ethical issues mulled
23 June 2016

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An employee uses an electronic microscope during the process of human egg fertilisation in a laboratory for In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) in 2015. Bloomberg

Despite a veil of secrecy, details are beginning to emerge about Cambodia’s burgeoning commercial surrogacy industry.

In an article on the website Gays With Kids, a British-Polish couple has revealed how they became parents of one of the first surrogate babies born in Cambodia earlier this year.

Meanwhile, a Cambodian woman paid to bear twins for a foreign couple has provided some insight into the deals offered to surrogate mothers. Read more

Surrogacy industry blossoms amidst a shroud of secrecy
14 October 2016

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The Royal Fertility and Genetics Hospital advertises Cambodia’s lack of surrogacy legislation on its website. Athena Zelandonii

Surrogacy superstar Mariam Kukunashvili says she’s no longer putting all of her eggs in Cambodia. In fact, the founder of international surrogacy agency New Life Global Network claims the entire industry has packed up its bags and fled.

“Everyone left,” Kukunashvili wrote to Post Weekend this week. “All of the Chinese agents moved to Vietnam and all of the Thai agents moved to Laos. We finished all our work in Cambodia.”

But as government officials prepare to draft a law to regulate commercial surrogacy, there are still agencies and clinics operating under a shroud of secrecy, hoping the government will forget their existence. Read more

For poor surrogates, a loaded bargain
2 December 2016

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Sophorn (name changed), a surrogate mother, is five months pregnant but unsure if she will still receive her monthly payments. Eliah Lillis

In Kmounch village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, at least six women have rented their wombs to foreigners over the past two years. There is little economic activity in the village itself, where women sit braiding each other’s hair, cooking over open fires or playing cards.

But each of the six surrogate mothers could receive up to $10,000 for her trouble – more than six and half times what a garment worker could make in a year on minimum wage. Read more

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