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Revealed: Bulgaria's baby traders

The Sunday Times October 01, 2006

Revealed: Bulgaria's baby traders
Nicola Smith Plovdiv

'Little Kalinka is yours for £11,000' – her grandmother

THE tiny baby slept snugly in the crook of her grandmother’s arm,
oblivious to the ghetto filth around her and to the squalid manner in
which she was being offered for sale.
The old woman may have held the infant gently, but her face was hard.
This, after all, was business.

“Her name is Kalinka — it means ladybird,” she said, passing the child
to me in a soft pink blanket that enveloped all of her except for a
pretty face of perfect serenity.

I cuddled Kalinka for a moment, feeling her warmth while the gleam of
avarice in her grandmother’s eyes chilled me.

“How much money do you want for this baby?” I asked.

“That is for her mother to negotiate. Come back at 5pm and we will wait
for you at that corner over there,” she said, pointing across the mud
road to a building as run down as any in the slums of Bulgaria’s second
city, Plovdiv.

I had come to Plovdiv, an ancient and largely dilapidated city where a
hepatitis epidemic is currently raging, to investigate claims that human
trafficking is on the rise in Bulgaria, which secured terms last week to
join the European Union on January 1.

Foremost among the concerns of human rights activists is the suggestion
that scores or perhaps hundreds of Bulgarian babies are being sold for
adoption across Europe.

I posed as a childless woman looking for a fast and easy way to adopt a
baby. I said my husband was a banker and we were willing to pay....

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