FOUR people have been arrested in Indonesia for allegedly selling babies on Instagram.
The account in question was allegedly disguised as a family welfare agency and included photos of pregnant women, babies with their faces blurred out and ultrasound scans, the BBC reports. Images of the women on the ‘Family Welfare Institution’ account were either darkened or showed them wearing masks to conceal their identities. The page description translates to: “Helping to cover someone’s disgrace.”
A Surabaya police spokesperson said a telephone number was provided so potential buyers could make contact via WhatsApp.
Authorities said they intercepted one transaction but were still searching for at least one baby featured on the site that is believed to have already been illegally sold.
According to Indonesian news site, Derik, Surabaya’s Chief Detective Col Sudamiran said people who want to adopt children “use that account and the transaction is completed through WhatsApp”. The account was disguised as a consultation service, offering to solve family problems, Derik reported.
The Instagram account boasted more than 700 followers and featured details of the babies’ ages, locations and religions. It also included screenshots of alleged conversations between the operator and clients in which they brokered deals relating to the sale of babies.
In one, a woman says she is seven months pregnant and does not want her family to find out.
In another post, a picture of a pregnant woman is shown along with details of her location. The caption of the photo states that she is pregnant and those who want to adopt can contact a telephone number that is listed.
None of the posts explicitly mention the buying or selling of children.
On Wednesday, a police spokesperson said they had arrested four people after intercepting a transaction that was due to have taken place on September 3.
A 22-year-old woman, identified only as LA, had attempted to sell her 11-month-old baby, they said.
Police said the buyer was due to pay 15 million rupiah ($A1375) to LA, 5 million rupiah ($A460) to a broker and 2.5 million rupiah ($A230) to Alton Phinandita, the alleged owner of the Instagram page.
All four allegedly involved in the transaction could be jailed for up to 15 years for violating child protection laws.
Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) vice-chairwoman Rita Pranawati, told the BBC that the government agency was aware there had been cases of baby-trafficking before in Indonesia.
“But it’s very rare to happen through Instagram. It’s a new modus,” she said.
While the motives of the buyers were not clear, Ms Pranawati said some people wanting to adopt may do so illegally if they did not fulfil the criteria to do so officially.
But she said there had also been cases before where children had been “illegally adopted for underage sex work”.
Originally published as Babies for sale on Instagram