CHENNAI: The recent case of a 10-month-old being sold to a family in Andhra Pradesh has brought to light how a nationwide racket of child traffickers operates and evades the police radar due to lack of provisions in the law.
On Wednesday, four people, including the baby’s mother, were arrested by the Red Hills police for selling the child to a family in Andhra Pradesh. Based on information from the mother and those who bought the baby, the police also arrested S Thangam, an agent from the city. Thangam has more than four cases pending against her for selling children.
“Such agents have contacts in fertility clinics, abortion centres, and illegal delivery clinics. During interrogation, Thangam said they target girls from low-income families who get pregnant due to informal relationships. The agents convince them to deliver and sell the baby,” said N Lalitha, a member of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), North Chennai Zone, who was the complainant in the case.
Since these agents bring egg donors to fertility clinics, staff there help them find people who want to sell babies. Thangam had named a few popular fertility clinics in Chennai that are part of the racket.
“Staff from primary health centres perform deliveries for minor girls and don’t inform the child protection units or police. Centres in Royapuram and Kasimedu in North Chennai have become safe havens for child-selling agents,” said N Lalitha.
The agents profile buyers and prospective parents, and sell children very systematically, say police. “Some procedures at fertility clinics are expensive and the agents target families that can only afford one attempt. After their checkups, the staff at the clinic connect them to the agents,” said a senior police officer.
Later, the agents find prospective children and sell them for a huge price. “In one case, a couple was adamant about getting a child from their caste, and the agents produced the baby’s parents birth certificates as proof,” said A Devaneyan, a child rights’ activist from Thozhamai Trust.
As for those who assist the agents, a police officer said it’s the ambulance drivers (who know the residence and family situation), government health centre staff (who inform if the child is a girl), abortion clinic workers (who inform agents of prospective sellers), lawyers (who help agents get away), and other agents (who help form a network).