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Australian, Cambodian Women Sentenced for Operating Illegal Surrogacy Center

Australian Tammy Davis-Charles, right, charged with providing commercial surrogacy services, hides her face as she enters the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 17, 2017.

An Australian woman and two Cambodian associates will spend the next 18 months in prison for operating a commercial surrogacy center in Cambodia.

Tammy Davis-Charles was sentenced Thursday in a court in the capital, Phnom Penh, along with two Cambodian associates, nine months after she was arrested and detained.

The trio acted as intermediaries between local women and foreign couples, mainly from Australia, seeking to become parents. The couples paid Davis-Charles as much as $50,000 for her services, with the surrogate mothers receiving $10,000 to carry the children.

Davis-Charles and the two Cambodians were also charged with falsifying documents.

Southeast Asia has been a popular destination for would-be parents overseas, thanks to much lower costs than other nations. But Thailand banned the practice after numerous allegations of exploitation, with Cambodia doing likewise last year.

The trade has shifted to neighboring Laos, which has yet to ban or restrict commercial surrogacy.