Indonesia busts Instagram ‘baby sales’

The authorities in Surabaya (pictured), Indonesia’s second-largest city, say they have broken up an operation selling babies on Instagram under the guise of an NGO promoting family welfare.

The account holder, who purports to be a 29-year-old man trying to address family issues, was arrested along with a 22-year-old woman, known as LA, who had tried to sell her baby boy, a broker and a potential customer. The four face up to 15 years in jail, the police said.

The Instagram account, which posted photos of pregnant women, ultrasound scans and babies, is still active with 722 followers.

One post reads: “I am unmarried and seven months’ pregnant. My plan is to find someone who wants to adopt my child and provide me with accommodation until my pregnancy’s due date. I don’t want my family to find out.”

The account provided details of the babies’ age, location and religion. It carried a phone number so pregnant mothers and potential buyers could make contact on WhatsApp, the police said.

“People who want to adopt children use that account and the transaction is completed through WhatsApp,” said Colonel Sudamiran, Surabaya’s most senior detective, according to Detik.

The account also features screenshots of apparent conversations between the operator and satisfied clients, encouraging others to come forward.

None of the posts explicitly mention the purchase of babies.

According to the police, AP said he used his knowledge of family-welfare issues from university and from his time as a volunteer counsellor, to persuade pregnant mothers to sell their babies.

The police told the media they had intercepted a transaction last month.

LA attempted to sell her 11-month-old baby for 15 million rupiah (US$985) with another 5 million rupiah going to the broker and 2.5 million rupiah to Alton Phinandita, the alleged Instagram page owner.

The mother of three was indebted and had separated from her husband, who lacked a stable job.

LA was introduced to a potential customer in Bali, who was interested in buying her third child, Sudamiran said.

Rita Pranawati, vice-chairman of the government-run Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), said trafficking had occurred in the past.

“But it’s very rare to happen through Instagram. It’s a new modus,” Pranawati said.

She said some adopters may wish to acquire children after they had failed to fulfil the official criteria while there had been cases in the past of children being “illegally adopted for underage sex work”.

Surabaya. Picture credit: Flickr