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Lao Health Officials Shut Down Clinic Suspected of Providing Illegal Surrogacy Services by Thai Women
- Commercial surrogacy industry is growing in the small impoverished Southeast Asian nation
- Ministry of Public Health regulations do not allow human organs and human cell tissue to be sold
- Surrogacy agencies and fertility clinic recently started operating in landlocked, communist Laos
Lao, June 6, 2017: Lao officials have ordered a clinic in the capital Vientiane to shut down amid indications that it is using Thai women to provide illegal surrogacy services to infertile couples, an official from the Lao Ministry of Public Health said.
The move comes amid signs that a commercial surrogacy industry is growing in the small impoverished Southeast Asian nation.
The official, who agreed to speak to RFA’s Lao Service on condition of anonymity, said the facility, which he did not mention by name but which is known as the VIP Clinic, was shut down on May 24 after relevant bodies checked it and discovered that it was operating without a permit from the ministry.
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The clinic, which offers “consulting services” to well-off infertile couples and pregnant women, is now being investigated by anti-human trafficking police, he said.
“The clinic was illegal, or operating without permit,” said the ministry official. “The anti-human trafficking police also came and requested some related information from us.”
The official went on to say that the relevant bodies could not determine if the clinic, located in a house along the Kamphaeng-Meuang road in Nonghay village in Vientiane’s Hadshaiyfong district, had definitely been providing surrogacy services supplied by Thai women, as suspected by Thai officials at a nearby border checkpoint.
Vientiane’s public health department, however, had already reported the problem to the Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Public Security and passed the case to the anti-human trafficking police, the source said.
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“We went to the VIP Clinic and checked it carefully, but we do not know if it has been offering any surrogacy services there,” he said.
“Now, we’ve handed the case over to the anti-human trafficking police, and we have provided them with related information when we found out that that clinic was operating illegally,” he said.
Ministry of Public Health regulations do not allow human organs and human cell tissue to be sold, he added.
When RFA contacted a clinic staff member by phone in late April after suspicions about the facility surfaced, she denied comments made by Thai authorities, and said the facility was providing consulting services for couples with infertility problems and pregnancy services for women.
RFA called the clinic again on May 24 when the ministry said it had ordered it to close, but the person in charge of the facility’s management refused to answer any questions.
Lack of restrictions
Surrogacy agencies and fertility clinic recently started operating in landlocked, communist Laos, according to the nonprofit organization Families Through Surrogacy.
Though Laos has no laws or restrictions pertaining to surrogacy services, neighboring Thailand and Cambodia have taken measures to eliminate illegal surrogacy amid growing concern about the exploitation of women who serve as surrogate mothers.
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Thailand passed a law in 2015 banning foreigners from hiring Thai women as surrogates after high-profile cases sparked debate the previous year. Those found guilty of paying surrogates in Thailand can receive a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
In November 2016, Cambodia banned surrogacy arrangements. But four months later, the foreign ministry said the government was preparing to draft a new law to make surrogacy legal “in order to control and prevent Cambodian children who are born via surrogacy from becoming victims,” according Families Through Surrogacy.
Meanwhile, fertility services and embryo imports remain legal in Cambodia, the group said.
Thai authorities at the Vientiane-Nongkhai border checkpoint first became suspicious that the Vientiane clinic was providing cross-border surrogacy services after they arrested a 25-year-old Thai man for smuggling human sperm into Laos in April.
The man confessed that he was crossing the Lao border to deliver six vials of sperm packed inside a nitrogen tank to a clinic in Vientiane, a Thai customs officer said at the time. Authorities believed that the facility was the VIP Clinic.
A week after the man’s arrest, an official from the Lao health ministry told RFA that she was not aware of sperm smuggling activities or the existence of surrogacy clinics in the country.
“The ministry regularly inspects all clinics, and the clinics cannot do more than what is stated in an official document,” said the official who declined to be named. “If a clinic performs any illegal activities, it will be punished.”
During the weekend of May 20-21, Thai police arrested a Thai driver and six Thai women beteween 25 and 35 years old, and seized 45 vials of sperm and human eggs.
The women said a Chinese businessman in the Thai capital Bangkok paid for them to travel across the border to Vientiane the previous week to be artificially inseminated at a clinic.
During that time, they stayed in a hotel and received medical checkups at the clinic, but they were all deemed unfit to be surrogate mothers, the women said.
One of the women told police that she and her husband agreed that she would serve as a surrogate mother in exchange for a U.S. $10,000 payment.
Both Thai men caught at the border in April and May eventually told authorities that they were heading directly to the VIP Clinic in Vientiane, which triggered an investigation of the facility by Lao police.
Lao anti-human trafficking police told RFA on May 26 that they inspected the clinic and collected some relevant information.
Now the case is under careful review to find a solution to the problem, they said.
A new phenomenon
Police said that surrogacy services are a new phenomenon in Laos.
“We went out and gathered information, and we know well that the clinic was operating without permit,” said an officer who declined to give his name. “However, we are waiting for the order from our boss about what we should do.”
“Because we have never seen a case like this—a case of cross-border surrogacy—we consider it a new phenomenon,” he said.
The police said the next step will be to close down the clinic permanently because it does not have a permit from the Ministry of Public Health.
Lao and Thai authorities will work together on the case because the two countries have a memorandum of understanding that covers this type of joint investigative work, the officer said.
“We will inform you later about what we will do next,” he told RFA.
“This case has severely damaged the good standing of our medical sector,” he added.
The official from Ministry of Public Health told RFA the same day that the clinic was ordered closed that the medical sector does not allow any facility to provide an artificial pregnancy services.
He also said the ministry will create a specific unit to stop the VIP Clinic and any others like it from operating.
“If a clinic requests a permit to provide artificial insemination services, we will not allow it,” he said. “If we find that any clinic is doing this, we will withdraw the medical permit and order it shut down.”
“The enforcement of our regulations is being implemented step by step, but we will make sure they will be fully implemented in the end,” he said. “We handed over the case of VIP Clinic to the Vientiane and district-level administration and the specific unit that enforces medical regulations.”
The clinic held a grand opening ceremony in August 2016.
Authorities ordered it to stop operating once before, but it reopened a short while later until Thai authorities this April suspected it might be a center for cross-border surrogacy services, anti-human trafficking police said. (RFA)
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is a pattern of recurrent aggressive behavior in which one person (or a group of individuals) in a position of authority intentionally intimidate or abuse another individual to cause bodily or emotional harm to that other. Bullying may take place in either a physical or verbal manner. Bullied individuals, as well as those who bully others, may have long-term repercussions.
Bullying may occur anywhere, at any time, in person or online (cyberbullying), and can take many forms, including verbal, physical, and social. Bullies utilize their position of power — such as physical strength, knowledge of something embarrassing, or popularity — to exert control over or damage other people. Many people assume that bullying occurs solely during childhood; nevertheless, bullying does not necessarily stop after a person reaches the age of adulthood.
Bullies in adulthood can take the form of a threatening boss or colleague, a controlling partner, a relative, or any other type of person. Even in our personal and professional lives, we sometimes encounter adult bullies who can be harmful to our mental well-being.
Bullied individuals, as well as those who bully others, may have long-term repercussions. | Photo by Unsplash
How To Deal With An Adult Bully?
For obvious reasons, adult bullying can be a painful and challenging experience for anybody who finds themselves on the receiving end of such behavior. Knowing how to deal with the antics of a bully properly, on the other hand, may help you learn, develop, and feel better levels of confidence. When you find yourself in this scenario, one of the most crucial things to remember is that you must not exhibit the bully any signs of fear. This might be difficult, depending on the sort of bully you are dealing with, but bullies enjoy fear, encouraging them to continue with their terrible conduct.
Maintaining a sense of connection with other people while dealing with bullying is quite essential. Bullies usually see alone persons as easier targets since they have a smaller support network to challenge them.
Courage and a support network are significant advantages; but, reporting the bully is also an excellent line of action. Contrary to common opinion, just ignoring a bully does not always prompt them to cease their behavior. Adult bullies of all kinds often interpret being ignored as a sign of weakness, encouraging them to continue bullying. If someone is bullying you, don't be scared to speak out and report the individual.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Keywords: mental health, bullying, bully, bullied, courage, abuse, harass, support, cyberbully
Silver and gold have always been preferred when it comes to wearing jewellery. Right from the times of monarchy in India, wealth and riches have been associated with wearing gold and silver for the various properties they have. Copper is a metal that has always been worn by the poor. It is not a metal that carries a significant association with health or wealth, but wearing at least one article of copper is extremely beneficial for health.
Copper is a reddish-brown metal that cannot be worn on its own. It has to be worn in the form of an alloy to prevent a reaction. Copper oxidizes in air and forms a green layer on it when exposed, much like the Statue of Liberty. Usually, bangles, chains, or rings of copper always have brass and traces of silver in them which helps with stabilizing its reactivity.
Wearing copper with stones in it looks very aesthetic, but copper is not durable enough to hold the stones, which is why it is fashioned into elaborate designs and sold. Copper is very malleable, and over time, the bangle or ring will take the shape of the wearer's hand or finger.
A copper ring Image source: Wikimedia commons
Jewellery made out of copper can be an excellent health indicator. Copper helps metabolize bodily functions faster, and the wearer experiences relief from indigestion. It also soothes joint pain, headaches, and arthritis. Using copper utensils also aids those with deficiencies. Since copper is absorbed slowly into the body, there is no fear of causing any kind of imbalance.
Sometimes copper leaves a greenish tinge on the skin. This happens when it oxidizes with sweat. This stain can be washed away with soap and water, but the fact that it appears is noteworthy. It is an indicator of too much acidity in the body. Greenish skin appears when the wearer's diet includes too much meat or acidic foods.
Copper might not be a very attractive metal, but wearing it has a lot of benefits for the health. It regulates metabolism, assimilation, and indicates health. It is definitely a good idea to wear copper jewellery at least once in a while.
Keywords: Copper jewellery, Copper is a health indicator, Metabolism, Oxidation, Benefits of copper
By Md Waquar Haider
When popular smartphone brands like Xiaomi and realme entered the laptop market in India last year, they were expected to shake the existing giants, specifically under the Rs 50,000 category. However, chip shortage and supply crunch have somewhat dented their plans to make a significant mark to date. According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. The first one is a massive supply crunch in the laptop component market and only big brands are able to get volume and supplies.
The other factor is that the traditional players are very strong in the consumer laptop market. Top 3 players control more than 70 per cent of the market and strong portfolio, distribution, and channel reach as well as brand marketing has helped them massively. "New brands can surely make a dent in the consumer laptop market but are challenged by supply issues right now. Watch out for them in 2022 as and when supply situation eases up," Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Client Devices & IPDS, IDC India told IANS.
Dominated by HP Inc, Lenovo and Dell, the traditional PC market (inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations) in India continued to be robust as the shipments grew by 50.5 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in the second quarter (Q2), according to IDC. Notebook PCs continue to hold more than three-fourth share in the overall category and grew 49.9 per cent YoY in 2Q21, reporting a fourth consecutive quarter with over 2 million units. Desktops also indicated a recovery as shipments grew 52.3 per cent YoY after recording the lowest shipments of the decade in 2Q20.
According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, driven by the pandemic and the associated accelerated pivot to remote work, learn and unwind culture, PCs have been witnessing heightened demand. "Despite the current supply chain constraints, PCs are here to stay in the new never normal. In the run-up to the festive season, established PC market leaders will continue to leverage their brand salience and gain market share," Ram told IANS.
According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. | Photo by Manuel on Unsplash
"On the other hand, there is a niche market for those new market entrants that are able to differentiate themselves from the competition in terms of features and value. "Alongside, they would need to back it with strong brand messaging to create awareness and recall amongst the target consumers," Ram added.
HP maintained its lead in the India PC market with a 33.6 per cent share as its shipments grew 54.2 per cent annually. Dell Technologies continued to hold the second position with a 22.1 per cent share and an impressive 86.1 per cent YoY growth in 2Q21. Lenovo maintained the third position with a share of 17.8 per cent in 2Q21.
Arvind Suraj, Research Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that there is always a trust issue with new brands. "You won't buy a laptop in 6 or 7 months just like smartphones. In this case, we often go for existing players. Brands like Lenovo, HP, ASUS and Acer have already gained our trust," he said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Chip, shortage, laptop, market, India, Xiaomi, hp, dell, brands