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Early morning while crossing through the lobby of my office, an educational institution in Delhi, the sight of a big headline in the newspaper lying on the coffee table stopped me to look at those Big Bold Black Catchy words, WOMB FACTORY. I went closer to the table and just read the complete headline, which stated, “Inside the NCR womb factory: How poverty forces workers’ wives to become surrogate mothers in Noida, Loni, and Gurgaon”; Surrogacy is the magic word these days, but after I read the headline my concern immediately changed from surrogacy to “Poverty Forcing Women to do this”. And I was filled with not a feeling of sympathy, pity, consolation, but a feeling of disgust and strong disapproval. I am not judging the situations people go through to opt for this way of coming out of their misfortune, or poor monetary conditions; there could be very much valid reasons for choosing this source to get out of certain unavoidable situations; but, poverty is not the only reason for people to make this choice.
These days this option is widely available in market to cater to people who can pay heavily for this, but when this option was not so readily available a few years back, didn’t people find out other ways to get out of their pathetic life situations born through poverty? I know, and completely understand that there are other unethical, illegal, dishonorable and immoral ways that people have to opt out of helplessness, but, why when a high paying product/service comes in the market, people choose it as the easiest way to get themselves fulfilled, blaming poverty as the sole reason for their choice? Aren’t other options, with some dignity, patience, and righteousness are of any help to deal with situations in poverty and distress? Again stressing on worst case scenarios, where people HAVE to go through wrong choices deliberately, but not everyone who’s poor. Let me state some phrases people have shared in the article talking about their needs and helplessness to agree to surrogacy:
“I’m saving money to marry off my girls. A girl’s marriage in India costs a lot to parents. I have two daughters who are growing up. I want to save some money for them so that I can easily marry them off.”
“No other way to pay our debts”. Pinki’s husband has a small-time job in an export house and is trying hard to make ends meet. “I already have two sons. When I had my second son, I never thought I would be pregnant again. But circumstances make human beings their slaves.”
“We want to build a house. For many years we have been striving to build a house, but the high prices have broken our back.”
These statements and many similar to these make me ponder over the actual reason of this widespread and easiest choice of becoming a womb factory.
It’s not helplessness out of poverty; it’s a choice to have better living conditions through high paying options available. I concur that everyone has the right to choose their way of living and spending life, but people with struggling conditions only blame poverty for the miseries of their lives, and they don’t even look out the better ways to deal with the miseries. These money earning options are not forced by poverty alone to go for; choosing these options in the name of poverty is demeaning the better options available which many others under the poverty line are following, like, education, sensitization on various life issues – social/health/educational/better living conditions/growth prospects through fewer resources, and much more. We have so many resources to improve our life conditions, and which are permanent solutions to this problem of poverty, but most of the people do not want to utilize those, just because they are not as easy as quick money options like surrogacy.
Not poverty, but illiteracy, ignorance and lack of education in overall areas of life make people to choose the easiest but worst options.
Choosing surrogacy as a poverty eliminator may be a good idea to earn and solve major issues of life, but this is not the solution to poverty, and neither the forceful result of bad life conditions. Blaming poverty for this choice is guff! Better options do exist!