SURROGACY: A key to exploitation.
Mother has been given a special place in every individual’s heart. She is considered as a sacred body and is not only adored but also worshipped by her children. Mother is the one who gives birth to new life and sacrifices all her wishes for her children. This opportunity is not available to all women though. Many of them are infertile and could not conceive. Thus they long to have a child of their own. However, people opted the method of adopting kids but soon this was discarded because the child so adopted was genetically different from the commissioned parents. Hence, with advent of reproductive technology, a new ray of hope was seen which was termed as SURROGACY.
The origin of the word Surrogate is from the Latin word ‘surrogatus’ meaning a substitute. To be more precise, it means when someone acts in place of another person due to some incapacities. Thus, a surrogate mother is one who bears a child on behalf of another woman either from her own egg or from an implantation in her womb of a fertilised egg from other woman. This involves an agreement between commissioning parents and the surrogate mother to which the surrogate mother agrees to bear the child of commissioning parents. At whole, a compensation is paid.
Surrogacy is of two types- commercial surrogacy and altruistic surrogacy. When the act is done solely for earning motive on the part of surrogate mother then it is termed as commercial surrogacy whereas when the act is done by any of the relative out of kindness or other lovable feeling then it is termed as altruistic surrogacy. However, this practise of surrogacy on whole was not so easily accepted by many in beginning but their desire to have offspring subsided all other social norms. India soon became the most popular place for want of medical help in this zoner. Foreigners flied to India for getting such operation done. Soon, the evil stretched it’s leg and casted the whole country.
Procreation was taken to market place. Motherhood was in sale. Feminity just became a machine to be used in baby factories.
It was argued that women were forced to become surrogate and their free consent could not be termed as free as it was driven by poverty. Hence, they decide to earn their livelihood by this way but their lack of knowledge and all other atrocities made them vulnerable to many exploitations. The surrogate mothers are available at very low cost in India and thus they receive meagre amount for the services so rendered. The male domination in society also is one of the cause that pushes women in such business. There are many scenarios when doctors implant more than one embryo inorder to avoid failure and that results in multiple pregnancies at a time. Chances of miscarriage, complications, premature delivery, infections, etc. Increases. The surrogate might also get infected of HIV or Hepatitis if the donors have these diseases.
Surrogacy also amounts to trafficking and prostitution. The baby so born are either sold, or sent to brothels.
In India, there are no such laws against surrogacy. Its a topic of debate that one should ban commercial surrogacy. However, in 2002 commercial surrogacy was made legal in India. However the ICMR failed to back it up. It just passed some guidelines regarding it saying that a contract must be entered between the surrogate mother and the commissioning parents, it also talked about right to privacy, it even talked about a life insurance of the surrogate mother. The necessity of legal protection was felt only after the famous case of Baby Manji v. Union of India. Thus, there are no such specific laws against the exploitation of children and surrogate mother via commercial surrogacy.
Hence, the poorer the country, more is the exploitation. In this context, Indian women are more vulnerable to such exploitations. In the absence of any legislation, it is difficult even for the courts to decide the legality of surrogacy contract, rights of surrogate, etc. Thus, its the need of hour to stop it, either by completely banning it or strictly regulating it.