Amid COVID-19 job loss and financial stress, many young boys opted for sperm donation. Every commercial ejaculator must pass a strict selection test. Sperm donors in Mumbai are mostly outstation students living in overcrowded rented rooms, sweating to pay their bills and embarrassed by their need to encash what everyone else flushes down the drain. Most of them are struggling models and Bollywood aspirants with failures and empty pockets. For some donors, it may be additional income, but for most, it’s the room rent, phone bill, and EMIs. And turning donor entails putting their pride at risk. Every commercial ejaculator must pass a strict selection test and only the best are contracted on. There is a huge queue of donors here, but most of them return rejected and unpaid due to their sperm quality and ejaculation efficiency.
Harman Bindra, a struggling model turned sperm donor told Afternoon Voice, “During COVID-19, many of my friends gone jobless, from paying rent to arranging daily needs was a big challenge. We all roommates approached a city infertility center for sperm donation, on the recommendation of a hospital source. Most of my friends failed in their ejaculation test (takes a painful long pause) how one can really think of ejaculating when there are hunger issues, routine crises? Two of us qualified for all the requirements as donors, but the money paid is very nominal. Moreover, there is a lot of exploitation too.”
Sandhya Singh (name changed for privacy concerns) an agent to the fertility centers told Afternoon Voice, “Mumbai is a city of aspirants and handsome youth, what receivers want to see is the physique, body, and face of a donor, generally, these aspirants’ models are well built and well maintained which is the selling point. These models have gone jobless, even otherwise they don’t earn as much as their requirements, that’s why many of these boys opt for strip shows, male sex works, those who shy away from getting in such trades prefer sperm donation because they care a lot about privacy. I am basically a model coordinator having contracts with doctors.”
Sperm donation in India is blanketed in secrecy and shame — of both the donor and his recipients. Donating isn’t much fun. There’s the fear of rejection, the stigma of success, and the price of confession. Donor hardly confesses his past experiments with fertility to his wife; their married life is always at risk. Meanwhile, there is a huge demand for a fair-skinned, dark-haired donor who is 5 ft 10 inches tall and has brown eyes. There’s the obsession with various castes especially Brahmin donors, even though it is illegal to divulge the caste identity of a donor, doctors often do so to oblige frantic clients. Muslims, on the other hand, want to know if the donor is Sunni or Shia.