By editor - 04 September, 2014
A man has been charged in Australia with sexually abusing twins he fathered with a Thai surrogate, children’s organisations reported on Tuesday.
The case is the second in as many months to ignite debate about commercial surrogacy, after another Australian couple left a surrogate baby which was born with Down’s syndrome in Thailand.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said that in the latest case the Thai mother, Siriwan Nitichad, had agreed to carry a child for a man and his wife who had not been able to conceive.
“She said her husband wanted to have a baby so much, please help them, please help them,” the woman, who is also known as Aon, told the broadcaster.
Aon, who lives in Phetchabun province north of Bangkok, said she agreed to use her own eggs, was paid about Aus$5,500 (US$5,122) and gave birth to twins some years ago.
Ilya Smirnoff, executive director of Childline Thailand, an organisation which has been involved in the case, did not name the mother but said he thought the children were now aged about seven and that the allegations dated back some two years.
“Initially she (the mother) felt pleased to be a surrogate and do a good thing by helping the couple…but when she found out about this (abuse charge) she was extremely devastated,” he told AFP.
“She is the biological mother and it is even more devastating to discover these things.”
A Sydney-based NGO called International Social Service Australia confirmed that an Australian state government had contacted it about two years ago, seeking to trace a surrogate mother in Thailand, and it had contacted Childline.
It said it helped to obtain an “assessment on her (the mother’s) suitability to provide long-term care for the children”, but that ultimately the children had not been taken back to Thailand.
It is understood that after the twins were born, the couple took them back to Australia but that the marriage later broke up.
Reports said court documents reveal that the father, who cannot be named, was last year charged with indecently dealing with the children.
The man, who reportedly denies the allegations which also include the alleged possession of child abuse material, is expected to fight the charges when they come before court later this year.
The children have remained with the man’s ex-wife.
But Aon, who now has two children with her husband, told the ABC she was open to the idea of taking the twins back.
The case follows that of baby Gammy who was born with Down’s syndrome to a Thai surrogate for an Australian couple in December.
In that case, which sparked global debate, the couple took the boy’s healthy twin sister back to Australia but left Gammy in Thailand.
It prompted calls by authorities in Bangkok for tighter controls and raised concerns about the practice of international surrogacy, particularly after it emerged that the father in that case had previously been convicted of child sex charges.
“There are loopholes with commercial surrogacy… there’s a possibility of exploitation of the child,” Smirnoff said.
Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia, but growing numbers of people are travelling to countries such as India and Thailand to engage women to carry their babies.