Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian mother says she was caught up in surrogacy




Cambodian mother says she was caught up in surrogacy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Tammy Davis-Charles (right) and Sambath Chakriya (left, wearing a mask), are escorted outside Phnom Penh court after their trial yesterday. Chhay Channyda

Cambodian mother says she was caught up in surrogacy

Wiping tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand, Samrith Chakriya smiled and reached for her child at Phnom Penh’s Municipal Court yesterday.

Her daughter is just 10 months old and dressed in pastel pink, and it’s clear she’s not completely at ease in Chakriya’s arms.

For the past six months, Chakriya has been imprisoned at Prey Sar and has been mostly separated from her infant, after she was suddenly arrested for her alleged role in an international commercial surrogacy ring. There’s a cruel irony that in the process of helping couples desperate for biological babies, she was cut off from her own.

Yet Chakriya claims to have been unwittingly caught up in the commercial surrogacy business. Working as a nurse at Sihanouk Hospital Centre of Hope in Phnom Penh, Chakriya took on some part-time work for Australian Tammy Davis-Charles, founder of Fertility Solutions PDG, in October of 2015. “I did not know the baby was for surrogacy, because my work is only looking after and caring for the patient,” she said yesterday after her trial in which she faces up to two years in prison was postponed.

“I had no idea working for her would lead to my arrest.”

She earned $200 a month for the first three months, but this was bumped up to $650 last year. “This work was just to earn extra salary. It was just to take care of patients; I’m just a nurse, not a midwife. I did not know about the law.’’

At the time of her arrest, Chakriya had stopped working for Davis-Charles. Chakriya gave birth in July and was on maternity leave, spending each day with her new daughter, when police came for her in November.

Commercial surrogacy is a fraught enterprise: advocates say it helps couples fulfil their dreams of raising a child, but detractors say it exploits impoverished women with scarce options. In Cambodia, couples have routinely paid around $50,000 for a child, with the surrogate promised $10,000.

Cambodia is still drafting a law on surrogacy, but in the meantime Chakriya faces charges related to fraudulent documents and acting as an intermediary between an adoptive parent and a pregnant woman.

At the court yesterday, Chakriya’s family flocked around her. Her father, Samrith Savoeun, a motodop driver by trade, remained stoic. ”I pity my daughter, because she is just a nurse. I don’t know why she was arrested, about these kinds of charges,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15