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Babies for sale on Instagram: four arrested in Indonesia

Indonesian police say they have cracked an Instagram baby selling racket, arresting four people for their alleged involvement in buying and selling babies on the picture sharing site.

Among those arrested were a 29-year-old man from Sidoarjo who allegedly ran the account, and a 22-year-old woman from Surabaya, who was believed to have put her child up for sale on the platform.

Two individuals from Bali, a midwife-turned-broker, and a potential buyer were also apprehended, East Java police spokesperson Frans Barung Mangera confirmed to the Guardian.

Mangera said police had foiled a planned transaction in the city of Surabaya on 3 October during which the 22-year-old mother was planning to sell her baby for 15 million rupiah (£743).

An adoption statement, cash and mobile phones that included messages about the planned sale were also seized by police.

The four face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison under Indonesia’s child protection laws.

Still active as of Thursday, the Instagram account presents itself as promoting “family welfare” and providing solutions to family problems.

Featuring scores of photos of women in masks alongside other anonymous photographs, the account positioned itself as a platform for counselling or “consultation”, especially for young, unmarried and pregnant women – a social taboo in largely Muslim Indonesia.

The account also includes stories of women choosing to put their unborn babies up for adoption financial reasons.

With more than 700 followers, the account appears to have been active for just over one year.

The most recent post, dated 15 September, features a grainy black and white photo of a baby named “C86”.

The post lists the infant as a male, one-month-old, Muslim from central Java. Interested Instagram users are advised to contact the administrators via WhatsApp number.

Mangera told the Guardian he believed at least three babies had been sold via the page.

Instagram has been contacted for comment.

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