More than 30 Cambodian women who were forced to carry Chinese children have been released on bail after agreeing to keep the children, official sources in Phnom Penh said.
Pon Samkhan, secretary general for the National Committee for Counter-Trafficking, told AFP on Thursday December 6th that 32 women had been released on bail this week, with 17 others released on Wednesday.
Cambodia banned surrogacy in 2016 in an attempt to prevent it from growing as a result of Thailand's prohibition the activity previous year, but the easing of China's one-child policy has led to an increase in demand for fertility clinics operating outside the eyes of the authorities.
The women - many of whom are currently pregnant - agreed to "not give up their children" before being released on bail, Samkhan said.
While a senior police official said that the release was "for humanitarian grounds," he added that if they broke the deal, they would face at least 15 years in prison.
Cambodian authorities, which are tightening their grip on the illegal but lucrative surrogacy trade, raided a surrogacy business in the capital Phnom Penh, in June, and accused women of trafficking. The case also saw the arrest of five people, including a Chinese citizen, accused of human trafficking.