The Surrogacy Bill that has been passed by Parliament recently completely banned the commercial surrogacy. Though the bill supposed to take care of the interest of the surrogate mothers it did not fulfil the aspiration of all section of the people in the society. 

The bill has the provision to safeguard women from any sort of exploitation. It has the provision of imprisonment up to 10 years with a heavy penalty. The bill is excepted to curb on unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, trafficking of women for surrogacy and abandonment of children born out of surrogacy.  It is a welcome step toward protecting the rights of women. 

As per the bill, it only allows heterosexual couples who have been legally married for at least five years and are infertile can opt for surrogacy. But before that, they must be certified by the medical expert.    According to the Bill, only heterosexual couples, who have been married for at least five years, and have been medically certified as infertile, are allowed to opt for surrogacy

Single people, live-in couples, same-sex couples are barred from opting surrogacy based on their sexuality. Thus the bill is opposed to what Supreme of India recently ruled that live-in relationship has become an acceptable norm and it is no more crime. Children born to such couples are acknowledged as legitimate under the law. The bill bars any provision for financial remuneration. By ‘altruistic’ surrogacy, the bill negates the reproductive labour put in by the surrogate mother. 

But in our patriarchal society where women are exploited to the core, they may be forced to become a surrogate mother and will be the beginning of another new chapter in the exploitation of women by the family members. Since the bill failed to define the nature of close relative, it can be another tool to exploit the women.

The Bill has not defined anywhere who can be considered a close relative, which can also be used as a tool for exploiting the women. But by drafting the bill and making a provision of close relative to be a surrogate mother, the bill denies the right of couples having no close family unit and family members. The couples with not close family members will be denied the right by hook and crook. 

Since India is a country of traditional values where inter-caste and inter-faith couples are always disapproved by their family members for going against the social customs and ethos.  Those couple hailing from such inter-caste and interfaith with no child will not get any taker from their family members. They will not able to have a surrogate mother. 

Thus the bill passed has lots of lacunae that need to be addressed in the changing society. Otherwise, women will remain same exploitation but in a different way.  

Pranab Saikia 

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