Surrogacy is a hot topic in India. Activist and women’s groups are very much engaged in active research and policy work to ensure women working as surrogates are legally supported with rights that protect their interests.
And it seems that artists are also engaging in this subject. ‘Rabdi‘ is the story of a woman who chooses surrogacy work to make enough money to provide a better education and medical care for her disabled child.
“International Biosciences sells most of surrogacy tests as peace of mind, at home tests which help clients eliminate any doubts they have about the parentage of the child born through surrogacy. In some cases, clients have sought legal surrogacy testing in order to prosecute the laboratories, doctors or embryologists involved in the mix-up”. You can read the whole article here
With the up coming program “uncovering” surrogacy in India, I’m starting to feel like surrogacy hostels in India are a like ‘ye olde curiosity shop’ for western reporters. They enter the same hostels attached to the same clinic in the same city in India and report on exploitation, again. I’m not saying we don’t need media covering stories of surrogacy, but a more nuanced approach (and different clinics for example) would be really welcome around now…
Great news for families in California formed with the help of an egg or sperm donor :
“It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent,” state Sen. Mark Leno told the LA Times.
You can read the full story here: http://gawker.com/california-children-can-now-legally-have-three-parents-1441519480
Check out this image of the planned one stop shop Doctor Patel of Akshanka has planned! It looks like a design inspired by neurons. You can read the article here if you are interested in a bit of sensational reporting 😉 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2439977/The-baby-factory-In-huge-clinic-India-hundreds-women-paid-5-000-Western-couples-babies.html
I’m not sure about the title of this one – if anything is being outsourced in commercial/compensated surrogacy arrangements it is the uterus rather than life. Nonetheless this is an interesting account of transnational surrogacy.
You can have a read here: http://www.sfchronicle.com/local/bayarea/item/India-surrogacy-23858.php
“I have made something so much bigger than anything I could make in the factory” Indrani, Gestational carrier
Dr Sharmila Rudrappa’s recent article in ASA’s journal Contexts is based on interviews with women who previously worked as gestational carriers in Bangalore, India. It is well written and worth the read as Rudrappa has managed to cut through the academic jargon and cover many of the relevant issues in a relatively small space. Every surrogacy/infertility centre in India is different and the background of the women working as surrogates differs from one to the next. My findings, like Rudrappa’s, indicated that surrogate workers were of the working classes and that they were happy to work as surrogates. However, where most of the surrogates I spoke with had different work histories ranging from domestic workers to pharmacy assistants the women in Rudrappa’s study had almost all been working in garment factories. Like Pande, Rudrappa views surrogacy work as an extension of factory work. Unlike the exhausting and dehumanising impact of factory work and “given their employment options and their relative dispossession, they believed that Bangalore’s reproduction industry afforded them greater control over their emotional, financial, and sexual lives. In comparison to garment work, surrogacy was easy”(Rudrappa, Sociologist).
I just came across this short documentary of a Dutch couple beginning their surrogacy journey in Hyderbad:
There are two ceremonies involving sacred thread in India (that I know of). One celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters and another the relationship between a boy and his spiritual identity. Raksha Bandhan or the bond of protection is an annual festival in India. During the related ceremony sisters tie a sacred thread, or rakhi, around their brothers wrist. This act symbolises the sisters wish for her brothers well-being as well as the brothers responsibility to protect his sister. The sacred thread ceremony or Upanayana is an initiation ceremony wherein a boy accepts a spiritual identity and teacher. The Jenoi (sacred thread) is tied around the initiated boy’s wrist. In both instances the sacred thread is worn by a male and reminds him of his responsibilities whether related to his spiritual integrity or his brotherly responsibilities. Women may tie the thread but do not wear it. So, it is interesting that a new book on an IP experience of surrogacy in India is titled the Sacred Thread. The author, Adrienne Arieff describes her unusual journey into motherhood. Unlike most IPs who become parents through surrogacy in India, Arieff was able to move to Anand in Gujurat for the duration of the pregnancy and spend time with Vaina, her children’s surrogate. I love the idea of claiming the very male symbol of the sacred thread to describe the relationship between herself and Vaina as well as that between Vaina and the authors children. I can not think of a thread more sacred than the life giving umbilical cord – I love that this notion weaves itself into the imagery of the title.