Selling children: inadequacies in French law

For the first time in France: on Tuesday, March 22nd, the magistrate court in Blois sentenced a mother who sold two of her children to homosexual couples following surrogacy, to one year of suspended imprisonment. The trial was held in late January, 2016; the prosecutor requested one year of prison (with nine months suspended sentence) against the surrogate mother.

Thirty-seven year old, Aurore, is being pursued for having sold two of her children in 2010 and 2012, but especially for the fact of committing fraud against two couples. Indeed, twice, she pretended to a couple who had already paid her the sum of 15,000 € that the child was stillborn, thereby making it possible to sell the child to another couple for the same price.

The grievance retained by the court is not the sale of the child to third parties, which is nonetheless an illegal practice in France, but the fact that Aurore committed fraud against the buyers. It was nevertheless underlined that this woman was in a situation of dire distress, having been raped by her father during her teenage years, and experiencing great financial difficulties.

The Jurists’ Association for Childhood, which filed a civil action complaint in this affair to defend the children’s’ interests, regrets this decision, in a press release: “By retaining fraud as the main grievance against the mother, the justice is only protecting the imaginary rights of children buyers to obtain the purchased item, a child, a small innocent victim, who is completely forgotten in this trial”.

For their part, the 4 couples were fined 2,000 € with suspended imprisonment for “encouraging child abandonment” and not for “traffic of human beings“, which this association finds deeply regrettable. “French penal law doesn’t specifically condemn the purchase of children”. “Those who purchased children were treated as victims”, comments Adeline Le Gouvello, the association’s lawyer. “Committing fraud against those who purchase children would be condemned by law, but children can be sold without difficulty? These children are completely forgotten in this trial, when they are the actual victims“, comments jurist Aude Mirkovic, the association’s spokeswoman.

The immediate question is now to know what is going to become of these children … Should one be returned to his biological parents, that is Aurore and her husband; and the other child to the couple from Toulouse who claims him, as this second affair is at the center of another judicial battle? This is the worst regret confessed by Aurore in the last January audience: “I blame myself, especially for this child“, she declared.

The Jurists Association for Childhood is going to refer to the Committee on the Rights of the Child at the United Nations who recommended several times that France condemn the sale of children. In 2012, the government responded that if the sale of children was not specifically addressed in the penal code, it was punishable all the same. This example proves the opposite. The association will also file the case with the special Rapporteur for the sale of children.