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India a surrogacy hub despite the flip side

Jun 12, 2012 09:40 AM IST India India

Mumbai: India is fast turning into a surrogacy hub for couples desperate to have children. But there is a flip side - the possibility of exploitation. CNN-IBN takes a look at both sides of what's being called the fertility industry.

"I have big dreams for my children. I want my son to become an engineer and my daughter to be a doctor," said Kaushal, who is a surrogate mother.

To realise those dreams, 29-year-old Kaushal, a mother of two, decided to become a surrogate. The motivation was purely financial. Living in Mumbai on a Rs 150 income for a family of four, she knows she will be compensated well for carrying someone else's baby to term. Surrogates are paid between Rs 2 to 4 lakh and for the infertile couple waiting, the gift is priceless.

"I am a mother, I know what it means to not have a child. I imagine myself in the other woman's shoes! It is a win-win situation for both of us," Kaushal said.

Unlike Kaushal, some surrogates find it painful to give up the babies they're carrying, yet they're forced to, raising questions on exploitation.

Author Kishwar Desai said, "In England you can't pay anybody to carry a child for you so people from those countries come to India to carry their baby. India is one of the cheapest places where you can 'rent a womb'."

What's worse is that most of this fledgling industry is operating unchecked.

IVF Specialist Dr Anirudh Malpani said, "Regulations are important. In the past for example, good clinics were very reluctant to offer surrogacy because they did not know what was allowed and what wasn't allowed."

There is no clear law in India, the draft assisted reproduction bill has been lying in Parliament for two years.

"The bill itself is so bad. Frankly that bill is not to protect the women or even to look at their health. The bill legalises having three surrogacies for a single woman," CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said.

At least 25,000 foreign couples turn to India each year looking for surrogates. Unkindly called the ultimate outsourcing, the fertility industry here in India has been estimated at upwards of a billion dollars.