Police in eastern India announced on Wednesday that they arrested a nun and a worker at a Mother Teresa charity home for unwed mothers for child trafficking. They stand accused of selling a baby for 120,000 rupees, which works out to about $2,000.
Police are said to be investigating three other child trafficking complaints. The tip that led to the arrest came from a couple angry that they paid the requested fee, but shelter worker Anima Indwar took the baby back after money changed hands.
The Missionaries of Charity organization said it was also investigating the charges, insisted it never charged a fee for adoptions, and said that, in any event, it stopped facilitating adoptions three years ago. The BBC explains this decision was made because the centralized electronic adoption system adopted by the Indian government in 2015 gave religious organizations less influence in the screening process for prospective parents; MoC specifically objected to placing children with unmarried couples and single mothers.
“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,” said MoC spokeswoman Sunita Kumar.
In addition to Indwar and the nun who was apparently involved in this case, two other women from the Nirmal Hriday (“Pure Hearts”) home were detained for questioning. Police officials said they have become aware of at least four cases of child trafficking at the center. 13 pregnant women who were staying at the center have been transferred to different facilities.
Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950. The organization has thousands of sisters, brothers, and priests serving in over 800 houses around the world.