More and more reports of a growing racket in the illegal sale of babies (or child-trafficking) emerge from Greece with women from eastern Europe and the Balkans forced to produce infants on demand for sale. We recently witnessed such stories when the case of the mystery blond girl "Maria" came to light. This activity is nothing new in the Balkan region.
As far back as 2009 we witnessed many reports in newspapers such as the Daily Mail and others which were noting the same thing. Specifically, a report in the life news site claims that one such "baby factory" is operating in Athens. Quoting another report from the Mail, it is estimated that young women, primarily Bulgarians and Romanian gypsies, are selected by racketeers on the basis of beauty and health for impregnation.
Once pregnant, the women are fed, housed and clothed for nine months to ensure a healthy pregnancy. The babies are born in a private location to avoid hospital questions, with a paid midwife on hand. The mothers will typically care for the baby for the next 40 days, when the child will be ready for delivery to the buyer. Such transactions can cost up to 20,000 British pounds.
Greek officials said black-market baby-selling rings are increasing, with nine known instances of the sale of Bulgarian babies in the first half of 2006--police arrested 33 suspected racketeers, including 24 Bulgarians, seven Greeks (including doctors and lawyers) and two Albanians.
In an additional case, five Albanians were arrested near the Greek-Albanian border under suspicion of selling eight Romanian babies.
“This is an escalating problem, the scale of which is impossible to grasp,” Lieutenant Colonel Antonia Andreakou, director of the Greek police’s public security division handling cross-border crime, told the Mail.Police said those responsible recruit poor women who are young, pretty and healthy with promises of false passports and papers to get them into Greece. After they arrive in the country, the girls are handed heavy bills they can’t afford to pay, and told the debt will be written off if they get pregnant and give up their baby.
“This is just a fraction of the number of cases. We need to prove that money has exchanged hands, as this is what makes the transaction illegal, but that is very difficult to do.”
“The girls have no option but to comply,” a police source told the Mail. “You would not want to upset these people.”For the women who are convinced to participate, the deal can ultimately cost them their life.
“Once the woman has served her purpose, she is as good as dead,” a senior police source said. “The gang will force her into prostitution and drive her into the ground.”In a related story, the Mail reported earlier this month on a British woman accused of stealing a baby from a teenage Romanian gypsy, who admitted that she traveled to Greece early in December to sell her six-month-old daughter for nearly £10,000.
Sophia Percula, who according to reports was just 15 years old and had been transported to Greece by her step-father, told police that she had arranged to meet Marie Golby, 41, in an Athens grocery store, but that Golby had stolen the child without paying the money.
While police have said they do not think the incident was gang-related, it is an indication of the growing frequency of baby-trafficking in the country.