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Inter and Intra South Dialogues, Capacity Building and Advocacy on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) and Commercial Surrogacy in South Asia

As part of the health movement and the autonomous women’s movement, Sama has repeatedly campaigned against the medicalisation of women’s bodies in ways that are unethical, coercive, iniquitous, and harmful.

Women are increasingly becoming targets of medical intervention through newer and more advanced scientific technologies. While contraceptive technologies on one hand prevent fertile women from having children, another set of technologies called Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) assist those who cannot have children. Yet, both these technologies are similar in a way that they target women’s bodies by intervening and altering the physiological processes.

Sama is currently engaged with issues on ARTs, which have far reaching social, medical, psychological and economic implications on women and on society as a whole. Sama’s work around ARTs is guided by the perspective that the interrelationship between reproductive technology and its end user is governed by gender, as well as by caste, class, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other axes of power.

In recent years, the exponential growth in commercial surrogacy in India has drawn much attention and raised several ethical concerns. India’s fertility industry is an integral part of the country’s expanding medical market and medical (Reproductive) tourism industry. Commercial surrogacy is often portrayed as a win-win situation for commissioning parents and the surrogates.Surrogacy is boosted by both domestic and international demand because of India’s lower rates of medical technology due to lack of regulation on ART clinics, and easy availability of surrogate mothers and egg donors.

In the past 8 years, Sama’s work has examined the trope of motherhood from the perspective of medicalisation and vivisection under ARTs and surrogacy.. Sama has constantly endeavored to link the micro -macro, activism -academia, advocacy - community, through themes such as market, technology, family, patriarchy, agency,regulation, so on and so forth. The purpose of actively drawing these linkages is:

  • to bring to the fore the lived experiences of women who are the ‘invisibles’ of an increasingly visible fertility industry;
  • to question the systemic violence that causes women to be vulnerable to potential exploitation, while simultaneously challenging assumptions of victimhood;
  • to amplify the voices of those affected—the surrogates, intended parents, medical practitioners—through personal narratives;
  • to sensitize stakeholders in India (such as policy makers, 
media outlets, women’s organizations, medical tourism corporations, and affected communities) as well as broader and more general audience to understand the issues from various perspectives;
  • to partner with institutions and advocacy groups to generate awareness, and stimulate responses on the
 subject in the form of dialogue and action by screening the film produced by Sama, ‘Can we see the baby bump please?’.

Building Capacities and Perspectives
Building Capacities and Perspectives of community based organizations, researchers, students, media representatives and medical professionals through dissemination of research findings and film screenings.

Sama has conducted orientations, workshops for a range of participants from organizations, networks, health providers in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttaranchal, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Delhi, around issues related to infertility, ARTs including ethical practices, public health, regulation, etc.

Sama has also presented at conferences, meetings organized by Indian Medical Association, by Universities, Colleges in India and overseas on varied themes such as the ART industry, ethical issues with regard to ARTs, medical tourism, etc. These have enabled wide-ranging discussions, awarenessand understanding on these issues.

Key Resource for Inter and Intra South Dialogues, Capacity Building and Advocacy on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) and Commercial Surrogacy in South Asia