After a series of complaints, the Indian Child Welfare Committee (CWC) announced that they are in the process of investigating a nun and one other employee serving at the Missionaries of Charity center in India (founded by Mother Teresa) of child trafficking. Specifically, the sale “of a newborn baby boy from the Nirmal Hriday (Pure Hearts) home to a couple in Uttar Pradesh for 120,000 rupees – around $1,700. The baby was reported to have been born at the charity on March 19 and sold through the black market to a couple on May 14.” 1
The nun accused was detained on July 4th and placed under judicial custody by the court the following day. Another employee from the center was also arrested in connection to alleged trafficking cases.
As you might imagine, the charity has expressed shock over the allegations. Sunita Kumar, spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity, said:
“We are shocked to know what has happened in our home… it is completely against our moral conviction. We are carefully looking into this matter. We will take all necessary precautions that it never happens again, if it has happened.”2
Child trafficking in India carries a ten-year sentence.
In 2015 the Indian government tried to make the adoption process (known to be slow and ineffective) more efficient by moving the system online with a national database. But despite those efforts, “the black market continues to thrive as prospective parents often find it easier to skirt the legal system and adopt directly from hospitals or orphanages, exacerbating the trade in child trafficking.”3
Although officials are investigating and looking into just how many children were given away in the last few years (they currently believe the home was charging up to $600 per baby depending on what prospective parents could afford) “skeptics of the accusations have also pointed out that the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which administers the government in Jharkhand state has been accused by Christian activists of targeting their religious minority, suggesting that the nun’s arrest may be part of a larger effort to tarnish the reputation of the church.”4
For the time being, the CWC has relocated at least 13 pregnant women living at Missionaries of Charity to another undisclosed location and the 3-month-old baby at the center of the investigation remains in CWC custody.