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Surrogacy in India- A secretive yet thriving global business.

Help the surrogate mothers

They come from lands as far as America,Canada,the UK, Australia, Israel and Singapore. There are many who are from India too, all with a dream to fulfill a desire of having their own baby.

Surrogacy in India has become a thriving, multi-billion dollar business with many impoverished and extremely poor families resorting to it by way to supplement their families and to safeguard for a better future for their children.Thanks to the rich westerners flocking our land, the business of "renting-a-womb" has now become a $2bn plus industry and is only growing.

Why India?

The reason, more and more western families are choosing India to deliver babies through surrogate mothers, is reasonably clear to understand. Firstly,there are fewer legal hassles involved.All the surrogate mother has to do is sign a "contract" with the childless/commissioning parents and a particular amount of money is fixed to be paid on completion of the "contract".
Once it is signed, the surrogate mother is left with limited choices. With no stipulated law or guidelines mentioned regarding any breach or violation of the "contract", the surrogate mother, is usually left at the mercy of the doctors or the commissioning parents, and is often left open for abuse.

Secondly,the cost of surrogacy and hiring a surrogate mother is much cheaper in India than in most of the other countries. Here the approximate cost is almost five times cheaper than in US or the UK.

Hence with cheaper costs,unregulated checks and easy availability of surrogate mothers, India has become the hotbed of surrogacy and it is only poised to grow more.

With the business fast becoming an industry, we need to look at the appalling condition of the surrogate mothers, who sometimes forget that the stakes involved are much higher.

Take the recent case of Premila Vaghela, a poor 30-year-old surrogate mother, who died in the eighth month of her pregnancy due to unexplained complications.

Premila had come to her IVF clinic in Ahmedabad,Gujarat for a routine check-up. While waiting for her turn, she developed fatal convulsions and collapsed on the floor. The doctors at the clinic, immediately performed an emergency caesarean on her and managed to save the baby. But Premila did not survive.

Citing it as "the price paid for surrogacy", the matter was quickly brushed under the carpet and given very little media attention.

The fate of Premila is a stark reminder that death is one of the hazards of being a surrogate mother in India.

Surrogacy has mushroomed all over India, especially in Gujarat, where the commissioning parents and the doctors are more interested in the end product- the child, while the life of the surrogate is considered secondary. In the case of Mrs. Vaghela, a section of her "contract" mentioned that the surrogate mother and her husband agree that " If she is seriously injured or suffers a life threatening instance during her third trimester of pregnancy, then she, " will be sustained with life support equipment to protect the fetus' viability and insure a healthy birth on the genetic parent's behalf."

Premila, had opted for surrogacy to provide for her own two children and to sustain a livelihood.

There are many more like Premila, whose deaths go unchecked, each year.

What is disconcerting to know that many malpractices abound this field where death or subsequent ill health of a surrogate mother is caused by methods used, which are otherwise banned in other parts of the world.

Implantation of more than four embryos in the surrogate's womb, the invasive " fetal reduction "surgery and adjusting the time of birth of the baby, through multiple in-vitro fertilization sessions, sometimes as many as 20-25 times,to coincide with the arrival of the commissioning parents, have resulted in further degradation of health and sometimes death of the mother.

While some surrogates have been fortunate to gain from the business of renting their womb, there are others who have suffered gravely.

For instance, it has been reported that, the husbands and children, have been found to distance themselves from the mother, after she returns home, following the birth of a baby.

Around 14% women in Surat and 20% in Jamnagar said their relationship with their husbands soured post the delivery of child. Many have revealed- around 100 % in Jamnagar and 83 % in Surat, that friends and family members have severed their contacts with them, after they opted for surrogacy.

To make matters worse, along with the health and psychological issues, the surrogate mothers often end up with only a paltry sum of amount after the childbirth as the amount of money paid by the commissioning parents is arbitrarily fixed by the clinic or the doctor.

What results is a tumultuous battle between the commissioning parents and the surrogate,with the latter often at the receiving end of all this.

This secretive yet largely unregulated business,has managed to bring more harm than good to these poor women.

Hence the need of the hour is a stringent law. We need a law to safeguard the interest of the surrogate mother and protect her health.

As the business has turned into a global industry, we need both the Indian government and the Western governments' attention regarding this issue.

We cannot afford to let this business thrive, without a proper legislation.

Surrogate motherhood has its positive and negative factors. What we should keep in mind that both the parties should be at gain, preventing any form of exploitation. Special attention should be taken to provide equal nurture and care to the mother too.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Sharontina's picture

Good!

Well said Mukut. Glad that you have shed light on this issue which may come to the forefront rarely or not all. Its a shame on the parents who would want a child but least bothered of the womb it came from. Why cant they spare the life of the woman who gave a fresh life in their hands. Its all the middle persons and doctors, everyone in the plot to be taken into account.

"Poverty has a woman's face" was the saying - but shouldnt be any more.

Stay blessed.

Merlin Sharontina

Nusrat Ara's picture

You have raised a valid point

You have raised a valid point that most of tend to ignore especially those in the surrogacy business as well as those who are supposed to regulate it.

Reagrds

Nusrat

Mukut's picture

Thank you Sharontina

Sharontina,

Thank you so much for reading my article and commenting. Yes, surrogacy is a somewhat hidden business but it is thriving and yet many lives are abused in the process.

Awareness and a proper legal framework is required to safeguard the interest of both the parties.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Mukut's picture

Thank you Nusrat

Nusrat,

Let me first say that i am a huge fan of your writing. You write beautifully. You manage to bring core, important issues to the forefront which are not only interesting to read but informative at the same time.

Thank you for going through my post and commenting. It means a lot.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Anita Muhanguzi's picture

Very tragic Situation

Dear Mukut,

This is very sad about the surrogate mothers. Something needs to be done to protect the mothers because without these mothers there would be no children. Have the commissioning parents or the doctors thought about that. They should therefore take the health issues of the mother as well as protecting her wellbeing during the pregnancy very seriously, because the life of the child is dependent on the well being of the surrogate mother. I strongly suggest that you start creating awareness on this issue so that these women know how to bargain when it comes to the contract. Firstly because they are risking their lives tremendously and secondly because even after the delivery of the child they are rejected by the society where they live. And so all this needs to be taken in to consideration when they are making the contracts.

Dear Mukut please keep me posted on the development of this issue. My heart bleeds for all this surrogate mothers who have lost their lives trying to help childless couples.
Stay blessed my sister.

Mrs. Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Head of Legal and Advocacy
Centre for Batwa Minorities
a.kiddu@gmail.com
cfmlegal@gmail.com
Skype: mrs_muhanguzi

Mukut's picture

Thank you Anita

Anita,

Yes the situation is grim and strict regulations are needed.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and showing support.I will keep you posted if and when any strict law is brought to place regarding surrogates.

Much love and appreciate your comments.

Mukut Ray

melanief7's picture

Wow Mukut. I'm incredibly

Wow Mukut. I'm incredibly thankful to you for sharing this story as I was unaware that this was happening to this degree. It is tragic that this system has become so "corporate-like" and that the human context has been completely removed. I think that by sharing this story you are creating awareness and this will hopefully bring about an anger that will force changes within the system. This is a public health issue as well as a human rights issue and must be addressed so that women understand the true dangers of this process. I will do my best to share this story in solidarity with these women.

Mukut's picture

Thank you Melanie

Melanie,

I completely agree that this is a health as well as human rights issue.

I am well aware that surrogacy has helped to provide livelihood to many families in India and fulfilled dreams of many childless couple,but all i ask for- is a proper legal framework, where the interest of both the parties remain protected.

The law/guidelines need to be clearer regarding any breach and the terms and conditions need to be more transparent.

The health and well being of the surrogate mother need to be given priority,erasing any kind of exploitation or abuse that can arise out of it.

Thank you for showing your support and sharing your thoughts.I truly appreciate your solidarity.

Much love

Mukut Ray

irina_costa's picture

Maternal Health = a global concern

Hi Mukut,

Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts on the growing industry of surrogacy in India. I know very very little about India but I can say that during the early 1990s the adoption-baby-industry was booming in Eastern Europe. At the time many western couples were working with adoption intermediaries in order to obtain a precious european looking baby. While I adoption to be a very humane gesture, it is so often a questionable procedure when structural economic inequalities are involved. I remember reading tons of sad stories from those times - children ending up in exploitative environments, natural parents conned by intermediaries or by adoptive parents, children adopted and returned, natural parents cynically selling their children ( sometimes without one of the spouse's consent)
The details of the affair are grewsome and it took more than a decade to implement some kind of a coherent legal framework to stop this trade. Surrogacy in India seems to be coming from the same core - wealthier families reaching out to poorer families in order to procure a baby...

On the other hand you're very right to frame your concern in terms of maternal health - this is perhaps the starting point for establishing some kind of legal framework around the issue. It could also be a good hook for an international advocacy campaign since maternal health is a concern both in the Millenium Development Goals as is in other international women's rights platforms ICPD, etc.

many warm thoughts,

Irina

Irina Costache

Mukut's picture

Thank you Irina

Thank you Irina for sharing your thoughts on this and raising your voice.

Thank you for those lovely words.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

Amei's picture

Mukut! cruicial issue voiced.

I am glad you have brought this issue to this forum and I hope there will be some actions taken. It is sad to see that people who have the money using the people who are already in unfortunate situations.

I hope people will become more compassionate and thoughtful of their actions.

One of the greatest challenge faced by women who are already have most of the challeneges faced by all women.

All the best Mukut.

With love and hope.
Amei

Mukut's picture

Thank you Amei

Amei,

Thank you for the support and encouraging words.

Much love

Mukut Ray

kirthijay's picture

Phenomenal post.

Hi Mukut,
This is a beautifully written post. You have written it so brilliantly - the nuanced nature of the issue is so deep and intricate - you've done justice to the issue through your verbosity.

I must tell you something. While at Law School, one Semester, I wanted to do my semester project on the Maternity Benefits that a surrogate mother is entitled to. My topic was immediately turned down, and the supervisor indirectly hinted that it was rejected because it is not to be spoken about. It shocked me to the core that even in educational institutions, all we do is to sweep issues under the carpet. :(

Keep writing such amazing pieces, Mukut. May the world learn from illustrious verbosity such as yours!

Mukut's picture

Thank you Kirthi

Thank you Kirthijay for your supporting and encouraging words. Yes, sadly we have a tendency to overlook/neglect the issues which matter most.

But, thanks to this platform, we are able to speak out regarding issues, which otherwise go unnoticed but need to be heard.

Hope our collective voices give rise to a more aware and just nation.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

harriskitty's picture

Thans for posting

I am really glad you to post this article. We found Dr. Anoop Gupta, one of the most humble and caring doctor, who answers our all queries and make our dream come true..God bless him and very thankful to him..

Mukut's picture

Thank you

Thank you so much.

Much love

Mukut Ray

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