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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Strange goods

Children’s body parts being sold in Ukraine
9 October, 2007 - 00:00

Recently a 36-year-old Ukrainian woman tried to sell her four-year-old son for body parts. Initially, she priced the child’s kidney at $50,000 US, but failing to find a purchaser willing to pay this sum, she reduced the price to $45,000. Fortunately, law enforcement agencies arrested this poor excuse for a mother.

“This is the first time that a criminal action in connection with the sale of human organs has been initiated,” announced Kostiantyn Stohnii, the head of the Department of Public Relations at Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. “The woman was arrested while accepting money from the client’s representative. During her interrogation she explained that she decided to sell the child because of financial difficulties and had not found any other way to earn money. An investigation is being conducted right now, so we cannot publicize any details.”

It is difficult to predict what kind of punishment awaits this mother, who would have been better off leaving the child in an orphanage. The Criminal Code of Ukraine states that this type of crime is punishable by a sentence from 5 to 12 years’ imprisonment with or without confiscation of property.

According to information provided by the press service of the General Prosecutor’s Office, Ukrainian law enforcement organs have seen many cases of parents selling their children into sexual slavery or labor exploitation (abroad, too). But this was the first time that a mother tried to sell her child to body parts traders, knowing ahead of time what the result of the transaction would be.

There have also been cases in Kharkiv and Donetsk oblasts where pregnant women had deliberate abortions for 200-300 US dollars after carrying the baby to a certain gestation period, when embryonic cells are used for preparing the so-called elixir of youth. According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, the term of gestation often exceeded the period after which Ukrainian legislation bans abortions. Doctors provoked an abortion and later extracted material from the still living fetus, needed to prepare expensive medicine for body-rejuvenating procedures. The prosecutor’s office has launched a criminal case under Article 43 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (for violating the human organ or tissue transplant protocol) against the head of a Donetsk oblast hospital and the director of a medical company that was created at this hospital.

An investigation by the Israeli police has provided evidence that organ transplants in Ukraine are often of a criminal nature: the Israelis recently exposed a criminal group suspected of carrying out illegal transplants of donor organs. The General Prosecutor’s Office says that a Kyiv-based private clinic is one of the links in this chain.

According to Liudmyla Kovalchuk, the vice-president of the international women’s rights center La Strada Ukraine, every year 1.2 million children in the world end up in the trade in humans. Ukraine, unfortunately, is among the states where this phenomenon is most widespread.

“In Ukraine children most often suffer as a result of domestic human trafficking,” Kovalchuk explains. “This is mainly the commercial child sex trade (there was a case recently when a mother sold her nine-year-old daughter to adult men), child labor exploitation, and children being forced to beg. There are known cases of Ukrainian children being forced to transport and sell drugs in Moldova and Russia. The sale and purchase of children are also used to fuel adoptions of children for their commercial exploitation. For example, female beggars buy newborn children to get more donations from passersby; as a rule, such children do not live long because they are given either narcotics or sleep-inducing drugs to keep them quiet. Recently a criminal group that was forcing children to perform in pornographic films was arrested.”

Ukrainian passersby either walk past beggar children dressed in rags with indifference or recoil in disgust from the obviously sick little tramps at the train station.

“Indifference is the most terrible thing, because all crimes start from this,” Kovalchuk underlined.

So, don’t be indifferent. If you see the rights of Ukrainian minors being violated, call La Strada Ukraine at this toll-free number: 8-800-500-22-50.

By Inna BIRIUKOVA, The Day