An Indonesian man who had built a reputation as a savior of unwanted children has been arrested on suspicion of child trafficking.
Dubbed the “father of a million children,” the story of 32-year-old S moved many in the country after he took in 55 children under his care. The children were mostly born to women who conceived out of wedlock, who would have terminated their pregnancies or ditched their babies to escape social stigma.
On Wednesday, police in Bogor, West Java said they arrested S after uncovering a sinister plot behind his adoption of the 55 children.
“The culprit offered to help the pregnant women. After the children were born, [he would take them in but] they would eventually be given up for adoption. But the adoption process was illegal,” Bogor Police Chief Iman Imanuddin said, adding that S had faked documents to set up his organization, the Father of A Million Children Foundation.
“If somebody wanted to adopt one of his children, they would have to pay IDR15 million (US$985) to the culprit. The culprit used the Father of a Million Children Foundation as a front.”
S claims he has only “sold” one child for adoption, and maintains that he did not use the IDR15 million on himself. He said he needed the funds to cover the cost of care and labor of the women he helped.
Police say the women’s labor fees were covered by the BPJS national healthcare program.
S may face up to 15 years in prison for child trafficking under the Child Protection Law.