Tunisia arrests four on charges of 'selling newborn babies'
Tunisian authorities have arrested four people accused of exploiting women in poverty by persuading them to sell their newborn babies.
A judge on Wednesday ordered the four suspects, who include two women, to be held in custody while the case against them proceeds.
The offences they are charged with include the exploitation of women, illegal conception of children, and the sale of newborn babies.
The network was dismantled in the town of El Haouaria in Tunisia’s northern Nabeul governorate. The date of when the perpetrators were caught was not clear.
One of the women accused is suspected to be responsible for recruiting financially vulnerable women, while the second woman is thought to have been responsible for seizing victims' belongings such as identity papers and phones, Rawda al-Obaidi, the head of Tunisia’s National Authority to Combat Trafficking in Persons, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.
After this, the exploited women are then forced into menial jobs in domestic work or agriculture, then are sexually exploited and forced to give birth to babies who are sold.
Al-Obaidi said authorities currently know of three victims, two of whom gave birth to two children each, and a third who was yet to give birth.
All these children were sold, the official told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service, adding that investigations were ongoing.
This was not the first time networks dedicated to exploiting women and selling children were found in Tunisia, she said, adding that some families had facilitated these crimes.
Statistics released by the Tunisian anti-trafficking authority revealed a growing phenomenon of selling children in the North African nation.
It recently said the incidence of this crime increased by a large 60 percent during 2020 compared to the previous year.
Tunisia is currently in the grips of a worsening political, financial and economic crisis, effectively increasing the number of people living in poverty.