Seven Cambodian women on Tuesday testified before the judge in a case involving 33 women arrested in June 2018 for acting as surrogate mothers.
The women are accused of “selling, buying or exchanging a person for cross-border transfer,” and face between seven and 15 years in prison if found guilty.
The hearing resumed on Tuesday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with the women giving an account of the situation that led them to become surrogates and how the process unfolded.
Garment worker Phai Sopha, 33, told the court she was divorced with two children – currently six and 11 years old – when she met a woman named Thai Phanna who introduced her to potential clients, who promised her $10,000 to carry another woman’s baby in her womb.
Sopha said she accepted because she was poor and needed the money. She told the court that she was paid $300 monthly during pregnancy.
Phanna, said to be married to a Chinese man, asked for $1,000 to act as an intermediary between Sopha and clients.
After signing a contract with one of the clients introduced by Phanna and undergoing a medical examination, Sopha was artificially inseminated. She spent the initial three months of the pregnancy living with eight other surrogate mothers at Borey Vimean, in Phnom Penh.
During the eighth month of the pregnancy, Sopha was arrested by anti-human trafficking police. She later delivered a boy who is now over a year old.
“Even though the boy is not my child, I love him as if he was mine. I would not give him to anyone,” Sopha said.
The court also heard the testimonies of Yon Lin and Ry Y, 34, was arrested three days after the insemination and released on bail. Her baby is currently 11 months old.
Ry Y was arrested during the seventh month of pregnancy and gave birth to a boy who is now 17 months old.
“I do not know who the father is or where he is from. All I know is that I want to keep the boy,” she said.
According to the police report read in court, the police arrested the 33 women in June 2018. They also arrested a Chinese man named Liu Qiang and four other Cambodians. Another Chinese man and two Cambodians are still at large.
The hearing is set to resume on an unspecified date.