Friday, July 27, 2007

Europe: BBC Exposes Trade in Bulgarian Children

Posing as a man who wanted to adopt a child for himself and his childless wife but who had been prevented from legally doing so because of a criminal record, a BBC reporter went underground in hopes of exposing the illegal trade in Bulgarian children.

Through contacts he found a man named Harry who, for the price of 50,000 to 60,000 euros ($69,000 to $82,000 US dollars), purported to be able to supply him with a child.

He was part of a criminal gang working out of the coastal resort of Varna - a popular destination for foreign holiday-makers.
Harry knew his business. The man boasted of trafficking both women and children across Europe and of a previous conviction in Germany for human trafficking. As the two drove away their initial meeting place of a petrol (gas) station, switching cars along the way to avoid being trailed, Harry proudly pointed out prostitutes that he had "put to work."

Then, chillingly, he said that children were now part of his portfolio. During a secret recording, he said he had successfully smuggled them into two countries - Norway and Germany.
Harry offered false Bulgarian adoption papers and detailed advice on how to smuggle the child across Europe and into the UK. Or, if preferred, for a price, he could provide passage of the child into the UK himself.

Harry offered the undercover BBC reporter his choice of children, showing photos of two possible children. The first was a "beautiful, little girl with dark hair, olive skin, and blue eyes" who was from a poor Turkish family. The second, a pale, blond haired girl.

Another day a few weeks later, Harry arranged for the prospective buyer to meet, in various ever-changing places, a few possible children: a toddler whose mother couldn't afford to keep her, a grandfather who was selling his grandchild without the knowledge of the child's mother, and a child being sold by her father because he already had seven children.

The BBC team turned the evidence they had gathered over to the authorities and Harry was arrested soon after.

The reasons that children are being offered for sale in Bulgaria are apparently several:

1) crushing poverty (makes it hard to support child and makes families desperate for money)
2) rampant, hard-to-control organized crime
3) social welfare organizations that are too new to be effective
4) children's rights laws that are also relatively new and therefore also not effective
5) the tradition within Bulgarian culture which says that the state should not interfere in family matters

Children are being offered for illegal adoption without any check on the motivations and purposes of the adopting persons. This leaves the children trafficked vulnerable not only for adoption by persons who might not otherwise be able to adopt, but for sexual exploitation and slavery.

Children might even become vulnerable for something that Harry himself mentions when meeting with the undercover BBC reporter--exploitation for body parts. (This is supposed to be an urban myth--the body parts thing--but it is interesting that the accused criminal trafficker himself mentions it. I pray that Harry is simply as ill-informed as the rest of us... and that he isn't speaking from his own knowledge as a human trafficker...)

That children have become valuable commodities in a world market keen for them is simply reality. That organized crime and ordinary criminals often exploit the market hunger for children by prying out of financially or otherwise extremely stressed and distressed families, their most vulnerable and exploitable members is also reality.

Anyone who continues to refuse to believe that the above could be true is simply either hopelessly naive or else has a personal stake in believing that it is not so.

Watch the film: BBC Films Baby Smuggler

Read the article:How BBC exposed Bulgarian baby trade, BBC News online, July 26, 2007

Bulgarian Man Caught Trafficking in Babies,, July 27, 2007

BBC exposes Bulgarian baby trade, Focus News Agency, July 27, 2007

BBC Reveals Baby Trafficking Channel in Varna, July 27, 2007


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