Three men arrested in Iran for allegedly selling babies on Instagram

Tehran, IranUpdated: Jun 26, 2020, 12:59 PM IST
main img
Social media applications on a smartphone including Instagram Photograph:(Twitter)

Story highlights

The babies had already been bought from 'poor families' for up to $500 and were being resold for between $2,000 and $2,500.

Three men have been arrested in Iran on suspicion of trying to sell two babies on Instagram, semi-official ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

A 20-day-old baby and a two-month-old child were rescued from the online infant-selling ring, the news agency said.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Rahimi said a third baby has been identified but is yet to be found, ISNA reported.

The babies had already been bought from "poor families" for up to $500 and were being resold for between $2,000 and $2,500.

One of those arrested allegedly said he was "getting babies from poor families" and "handing them over to families who could provide a better future".

Brig-Gen Rahimi told local media that police officers had been alerted to "ads on Instagram for selling babies".

The officers uncovered "10 to 15 such pages" on the photo-sharing service and found the two babies with the three men who were arrested, he said. The babies were handed over to social services.

The suspects claimed that they had bought the babies from poor families for a "small fee", according to the general.

In a video published by the Young Journalists' Club news agency, one of the men said: "This would have helped these babies have a better future."

This is not the first such case uncovered by the authorities in Iran.

Earlier this year, police in the province of Gorgan said they had arrested four women and a man who had allegedly been finding poor pregnant women and paying their hospital expenses, then taking away their babies after they gave birth.

In 2016, then Vice-President for Family and Women's Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi expressed concern over what she said was the "high number" of expectant mothers selling their babies.

She said women were being forced to do so by "a variety of factors", including poverty, drug addiction, child marriage and homelessness.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram said that the company was investigating. "We do not allow content or behaviour on Instagram that may lead to human exploitation, which includes the sale of children for illegal adoption. We're aware of reports of this activity, and we're continuing to investigate," the statement said.

Facebook has a human exploitation policy, which covers harmful activities related to human exploitation and trafficking, and Instagram users are encouraged to report any concerning content using in-app tools or its reporting form.

Iran is among 21 "Tier Three" countries in the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranks nations that comprise the worst offenders on human trafficking.

The countries listed in this tier do "not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and (are) not making any efforts to do so," according to the report, which was published last year.