Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Mothers on rent, lucrative trade in India

Recently, there was a report on an illegal fertility clinic in Telangana discovered 47 surrogate mothers – who had been lured to rent their wombs for money – living in “terrible conditions”. Following a tip-off, Telangana state police raided the fertility clinic in the city of Hyderabad and discovered the women, nearly all from northeastern states. The women were all huddled in one large room and had access to just one bathroom. They were mostly migrants from northeastern states who had been brought here through agents and promised up to Rs 400,000. They were staying here as part of an agreement between the (adoptive) parent and the surrogate.

The surrogacy industry has come under attack from women’s rights groups who say such clinics are “baby factories” for the rich, and lack of regulation results in poor and uneducated women signing contracts they do not fully understand. These days, poor woman are adopting to such trade, they give birth to as good as ten children in ten years, yearly they earn 4 to 5 lakhs of rupees for their family, actually nothing doing much. The food, medication and living are provided by hospitals and in most of the cases, rich families personally take care of health hygiene of surrogated mothers. These mothers find this earning much more largely than the earnings they get out of doing domestic labour or field labour. They manage to make a small home, they manage some savings and some small work for themselves, an average one woman in five to ten years earns minimum 25 lakhs.

Such earnings are blessing for poverty stricken villagers. Moreover they feel this is a good karma job, as they become reason for someone’s happiness. Where as earlier many of these women were pushed to flesh trade, which was horrific life.

There has been a surge in demand for surrogates after the government drafted a bill to outlaw commercial surrogacy – a multi-billion dollar industry.

Right now, the surrogacy industry is anything goes, which is really scary. There was legislation proposed in India in 2010, it just hasn’t been passed. At the same time, there’s no limit to how many embryos can be implanted. Doctors have been known to insert more than one or two embryos to increase the chances that the woman will get pregnant without losing time or money. The commissioning couple may only want one baby, so sometimes, when more than one baby is born, the couple isn’t told, even though it’s their genetic offspring. Then these babies are offered from the black market. There are many foreign couples that adopt such children in whichever sum you ask for.

Until the ban on surrogacy passes, India continues to be among a handful of countries where women can be paid to carry another’s child through in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer. The demand is very high right now and the involvement of migrant workers coming down from the northeast to take up surrogacy is new.

For pro-nationalist countries, like India where children are highly desired, parenthood is culturally compulsory and childlessness is socially unacceptable, the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) are rapidly globalising. Factors such as growth of infertility in modern society coupled with the rising demand for having one’s own child, adoption restrictions, the development of surrogacy contract and commercial surrogacy agencies has resulted in the increasing publicity and public interest in the formation of such agreements between infertile couples and surrogate mothers. A womb for rent is growing in India. There is no record for tracking the number of such pregnancies but doctors work with surrogates in almost all major cities. India has been regarded as the surrogacy capital of the world. Surrogacy business in India is estimated to be worth over Rs 2000 crore. Commercial surrogacy became legal in India since 2002. Here the total cost of having a baby through surrogacy is one-third of what it is in USA and other western countries. Moreover, the lack of regulation, Indian women being less prone to having smoking and drinking habits, the provision of enjoying the biological parent’s name in the birth certificate of the baby born, and the younger age of the surrogate mother holding a better chance of getting a successful pregnancy makes India a favoured destination for the intended parents. Surrogacy has risen from a position of shame to acceptance, need and means to survive. Commissioning couples from the U.S. and Europe use Indian surrogacy agencies because they’re as much as six times cheaper than Western alternatives.

Surrogacy companies claim to offer opportunities for women to escape poverty, promoting international surrogacy as a win-win for everyone involved. There are cases where American couples feel a little strange about what is happening, and the ethics of it, but turn a blind eye because they don’t want to pay the higher rates in the states. Many couples don’t want to know what’s behind the scenes, they want their baby fast, and they want it done cheaply. At the same time, there are couples that have an ongoing relationship with the surrogate and are very involved in making sure she’s making a choice and not simply being exploited. In spite of this industry having very dark side, it’s been bigger business in India and mother’s are restlessly milling babies.


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Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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