In a new Al Jazeera documentary, Malaysia: Babies for Sale, 101 East reporter Chan Tau Chou goes undercover to expose this sinister trade. In a four-month investigation, Chan discovers just how easy it is to buy a baby in Malaysia.
“Legal adoption can take years in Malaysia and it’s a complicated process,” Chan says. “Many people turn to traffickers to buy babies. And then they pay doctors and government officials to falsify birth documents, so that no one knows the baby is not theirs.”
A baby’s price is determined by race, skin colour, gender and weight. Fair-skinned boys fetch the highest price, activists say.
“You can choose your baby online,” says Hartini Zainudin, a child rights advocate. “It’s like a supermarket.”
Al Jazeera meets a trafficker in Malaysia who advertises babies online and says she is housing 78 pregnant Indonesian women. She offers a photo catalogue of pregnant women for potential buyers to choose from.
101 East’s undercover team gathers video evidence of doctors who openly offer to help get falsified birth documents for babies who have been bought, with the help of officials working in the government’s National Registration Department.
Activists say the demand for babies has resulted in some sex workers selling babies instead of having abortions if they get pregnant.
While some children may end up in good homes, others may be groomed for paedophiles or exploited by begging syndicates, according to activists.
“There are no proper checks on the buyers and whether they make good parents,” says Chan. “The best interests of the child are never considered in such transactions.”
In this must-watch exclusive, 101 East exposes the network of traffickers, doctors and government officials profiting from the most vulnerable women and children.