Indian ARTs (assisted reproductive technology) bill has been in draft form since 2010. While I was living in India academics and women’s rights groups explained that the bill could be passed “any day” that there was no way of knowing when the billed passed. Three years down the track the bill is still in draft form, but according to this article (here) voting may make the difference. It seems that there is no way of knowing when it will happen but there remains hope that it will happen.
Tag Archives: India
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.
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…
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 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.
‘Made in India’ was filmed in 2008 in Mumbai. The film looks at IP, surrogate and clinic perspectives led primarily by the journey of the American intended parents. I heard about the film early in 2011 and saw it first at a screening in the Habitat center in Delhi later that year. Vaishali and Rebecca, the creators of the film, have been encouraging outreach sessions in India. You can have a look at some of the reactions to the film during these outreach sessions here.
Here is what Vaishali and Rebecca have to say about why they made the film and a little about there own backgrounds:
We come from a background of social justice work, with particular interest in reproductive rights, sexuality and human rights. When we first heard about “outsourcing” surrogacy to India in 2007, we were captivated by the myriad of issues that emerge from this subject matter at the crossroads of body politics, reproductive technologies and globalization.
At the time when we started filming, we noticed that any mainstream conversations around this issue tended to be very polarized: either promoting or condemning the practice. We wanted to bring a nuance to the story that would offer the audience a closer understanding of the intended couple’s and the surrogate’s choices behind their decisions. We wanted to take this intimate journey with all the players involved. Of course, we had no idea how the story would end up, but we trusted that if we let events unfold on their own – all the questions we were interested in exploring would emerge organically. As a result, the film really challenges viewers to come to their own conclusions about the practice.
We set out to create a film that captured the entire surrogacy process as it unfolded. Often this meant something like the amazing race for the film crew as we raced from Texas to Mumbai and back again! In addition to the parallel stories of the western commissioning parents and the surrogate, the “Reproductive Tourism” industry emerged as a key player in this process, as did US and Indian Government bodies. Today the international surrogacy industry is growing exponentially. However, in countries such as India, the process is taking place without regulation, and without adequate judicial recourse for the surrogates, the commissioning parents or the children. Similarly new medical tourism businesses are growing in the US and abroad without a proper code of conduct and ethics in place.
“Made in India” highlights the human stories behind a complex process while raising immediate concerns over women’s health and rights.
Lynsey Addario’s article in the Washington Post offers some insight into the average Indian woman’s experience of giving birth in a public hospital. The pictures would be shocking to most westerners, the ward is clearly old and under-maintained and does not appear to be all that clean. There are some really modern technologically advanced hospitals here in Delhi but the average family would not be able to afford care in such an environment. The lack of private space to give birth Addario’s pictures reveal contrasts with western expectations of the birth experience. It would be interesting to hear more from the women in these pictures about their experience, and their expectations. It would have been enough to just hear the stories of these women along side the pictures, I find the framing of the story unfair, going into a busy delivery ward in a third world country to write a story about the world being overpopulated… I think these women have enough to bear without holding the responsibility for overpopulation on their shoulders. If anyone is interested in reading some really informed analysis on over population, the related policy and it’s impact on poor women, take a look at Mohan Rao’s work. And just to be clear, I’m not saying Addario is uninformed, I’m just a little tired of the linking of impoverished women and overpopulation.