This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Surrogacy in India: Womb on Rent

More from Youth Ki Awaaz


By Amritapa Basu:

“I feel the baby growing in my womb for nine months, yet I know in my heart that at the end, I have to part with it. It rips my heart off every time but being poor can make you do anything”, says Mili. Many such Milis live in our society who willingly rent out their wombs to childless couples to add that extra bit to their meager income. Surrogate motherhood — an issue that has sparked off much legal and moral debate.

Though commercial surrogacy was legalized in India in 2002, emotional and health factors remain unanswered. India is a favourite destination for international couples as it is cheaper to get a willing surrogate than in developed countries. It has been estimated that the total amount of money required in India — maintenance of the surrogate, clinical charges, hospital and delivery expenditure, regular medical check-ups also the costs of flight tickets and hotels, comes to roughly a third of the price compared with going through the procedure in the UK. A surrogate mother in India may receive up to 2-3 lakhs for bearing a child. In most cases, it has been observed that husbands of these volunteering women are daily wagers who are unable to earn enough money to support the family, to provide a better future for their children.

Surrogacy are opted by couples who are unable to conceive their own child due to certain physical problem. They choose surrogacy over adoption as they do not want to face the strict ‘red-tape’ of the adoption procedure and also want to attempt all possible ways to have their own biological child before they go for adoption. IVF centres have increased rapidly after 2002 and so have the throngs of aspiring couples who come to India in hope of going back home with their own little one.

In India, surrogate mothers tend to be considered social outcasts. They have to keep matters a secret as bearing someone else’s child brings with it stigma and social ostracizing. On top of that, these women have to face inhuman treatment at the clinics. They are forced for repeated artificial insemination in case the previous attempt fails. They are not allowed to meet the would-be parents or ask for payments before the child is handed over to the couple. In case some genetic aberration is detected, she is forced to go for an abortion though she maybe pro-life and is made to go through the whole process once again. However, the fertility clinics claim that surrogates are taken good care of and the provision for not letting the surrogate and the would-be parents is in the interest of both of them. This is for the prevention of exploitation by either of them. They say that surrogacy is a noble social work as childless couples get blessed with their own child.

Cheap ‘womb renting’ for couples and profitable returns for ‘womb-letting’ may answer the economical front but in absence of strict health care laws, who were to be blamed if the surrogate mother’s health fails or she dies. More often than not, these women have quite few children of their own and were she to die in this process of repeated surrogate pregnancy in a frenzied bid to make money, what would happen to her own children? One must not forget the fact that maternal mortality rate in India is one of the highest among the developing nations.

It is said that ‘motherhood’ is the best thing that can happen to a woman but when the womb is put out on rent isn’t something more than money at stake? After all, it is more than just monetary liability.


You must be to comment.
  1. Sheikhshagufta

    It is a really depressing thing about the surrogacy which is carried on in India.we should be shamed of things happening around us and we are just sitting at our homes and relaxing,and just showing a fake sympathy for a thing of concern ,a really big issue which has to be cleared out.i know it is very easy to say but really difficult to work out.but every small step taken for this surrogate mothers will help them in getting out of it.Initiative brings out revolution in the society which changes mindset…..

    1. Amritapa Basu

      Thank you Sheikhshagufta.
      Yes, we need to work towards it and creating awareness is the first step.

  2. Saloni

    I am sorry but i doubt the authenticity of your statement that surrogacy has been legalized in 2002. There is no law on surrogacy in India apart from the guidelines issued by the ICMR.

    1. Amritapa Basu

      Thank you Saloni for reading my article and bringing this point to my notice. I would like to know more about this ‘guidelines issued by ICMR’. Commercial surrogacy has been legalized in India in 2002 is an observation from (

  3. Ridhi Singh

    i think Ampritapa isn’t wrong on her part though there is no legalization on surrogacy but somehow in 2002 in “Manji’s” case the Supreme court held for the first time that commercial surrogacy is LEGAL

    1. Amritapa Basu

      Thank you Ridhi.
      What I gather from your comment is that there is no written, binding law on surrogacy but since precedence (reference to a previous case) is given much importance in Indian judicial system and Supreme Court being the apex court had held commercial surrogacy legal in Manji’s case, now surrogacy is as good as legalised in India. Alright, thank you for the information.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By aditi Pandey

By Survivors Against TB

By Yuvaniya

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below