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Surrogate Mother
Image: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

Surrogacy child abuse

September 2, 2014

An Australian man has been charged with sexually abusing twins he fathered to a surrogate Thai mother. The reputation of the Thai surrogacy industry worsens, weeks after a surrogate baby with Down syndrome was abandoned.

https://p.dw.com/p/1D5Dv

In the latest scandal to bring the Thai surrogacy industry under scrutiny, an Australian man has been charged with sexually abusing twin girls who he fathered to a Thai surrogate mother several years ago.

Court documents showed on Tuesday that the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was charged in a New South Wales state court last year with committing acts of indecency with a victim under 10 years old. Australian television broadcaster Nine Network reported that the girls were around 4 and 5 years old.

The charges against the man come just weeks after another Australian couple were accused of abandoning their surrogate son who had Down syndrome, casting the credibility of the Thai surrogacy industry into yet murkier waters.

According to the court documents, the father in his 50s has also been charged with possessing child pornography materials that were found during a raid on his home.

Violent temper

The man, who is currently free on bail, has denied the allegations and will go on trial in the coastal city of Gosford on December 8, documents show.

The twin girls were born around seven years ago to a 23-year-old Thai surrogate mother Siriwan Nitichad, in Thailand's northern province of Petchabun for 170,000 baht ($5,300 US or approximately 4,041 euros).

According to court documents, the father charged with the sexual abuse had become unemployed. He also allegedly had a violent temper and the marriage broke down.

Return to Thailand

On Tuesday, executive director of Childline Thailand Foundation, Ilya Smirnoff, said that following the father's charges, Australian officials had considered sending the twin girls back to their surrogate mother in Thailand.

The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services would not answer questions about the girls' current living circumstances and potential return to Thailand, saying in a statement that it was "unable to provide any comments about this matter."

ABC, however, said that the children are now in the care of the ex-wife of the accused man.


Government crackdown

Baby Gammy Down Syndrom
Baby Gammy, who has Down syndrome, was abandonedImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo

Last month, Thailand's Ministry of Public Health announced plans to introduce a law banning commercial surrogacy by the end of the year.

The government crackdown came as a result of the scandal surrounding baby Gammy, which created a social media outcry, with crowd-funders raising nearly $200,000 (152,372 euros) for the surrogate mother and baby.

In July, Australian father David Farnell and his wife were accused of leaving their surrogate son, Gammy, who was born with Down syndrome, in Thailand, despite taking his twin sister.

The couple claims they had wanted to take their son home, but that the Thai surrogate wanted to keep him because she feared he would end up in a state institution. It has since emerged that Farnell is also a convicted sex offender.

Border control

Since the announcement of the prospective law change, an immediate crackdown on parents leaving Thailand with surrogate children has led to many couples facing problems at border control.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which is negotiating with Thai authorities to help Australian couples bring home their babies who were already conceived to surrogate mothers prior to the government crackdown, said on Tuesday that it could not comment on specific cases due to privacy considerations.

ksb/slk (AP, AFP)

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