NEW DELHI: Surrogates in India are not the “poorest of the poor”, contrary to popular perception, and are more educated than their counterparts in the similar age-group in the general population, research has revealed. The research, which compiled empirical evidence on the socio-economic status of surrogate women in India, also found that most surrogates had their first child by the age of 20 and had smaller families with just one or two children.
The analysis was carried out by researchers from the French Institute of Demographic Studies, Paris and Indian Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai.“The fact that not most deprived and uneducated women get into the business of lending wombs, says a lot on the recruitment of surrogates by the clinics and agencies and also the specificity of women who apply to surrogacy,” Virginie Rozée, lead researcher of the project, told this newspaper.
Since 2002, when commercial surrogacy was legalised in the country, India has become one of the top international destinations for surrogacy and the business is estimated at $2 billion.It has also been estimated that more than 25,000 children are born every year through surrogacy and half of them find parents overseas.
There are nearly 3,000 clinic and agencies facilitating this form of artificial reproductive technique in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chennai, Punjab, West Bengal and Delhi. Anand in Gujarat, with over 1500 such centres, has earned the sobriquet “baby factory”.
“Although surrogates in India are not powerless victims in need of aid, as our study showed, they have an unequal relationship with medical doctors and intended parents from rich countries,” Sayeed Unisa from IIPS, who also assisted in the research, said.“Indian surrogates have no power to make decisions about the gestational and birth process and that needs to be addressed through government regulation,” Unisa said.