Within Asia, India has long been a popular destination for prospective parents from Australia, the UK and elsewhere who seek to have a child through surrogacy.Commercial surrogacy in India is booming, and the government there is struggling to regulate what has become an industry.
The exponential growth of commercial surrogacy appears now to have spread to India’s neighbour, Nepal.Human rights organisations doing research on commercial surrogacy in Nepal point to a marked increase in such cases.This is particularly so along the Terai (or Madhesh) region on the shared Indian / Nepalese border.
Initial research on behalf of NAWHRD has identified the border areas of Nepalgunj, Biratnagar and Jhapa (amongst others) as fast turning into attractive destinations for commercial surrogacy.
The organisation’s chairperson, Renu Raj Bhandari, has called upon the Nepalese authorities to pay attention to the phenomenon and to regulate it.
“India is already a world hub for surrogacy arrangements. And because of long standing ties between India and Nepal, it can be assumed that women in Nepal are and will continue to become increasingly sought as gestational surrogates, too.
“In the preliminary phase of the research we are conducting we have found that some areas in the Tarai belts have already attracted service seekers”.
A local human rights activist and advocate, Meera Dhungana, agrees:
“Poverty is the basic reason behind thriving business of commercial surrogacy in India. We know the status of poor women in Nepal. If we expect to act only after the problem grows, many women are going to be exploited badly.”
Surrogacy always throws up complicated legal and ethical issues, and international surrogacy all the more so.The Nepalese experience demonstrates that the wave of surrogacy as a global phenomenon continues to crest.I looked in a recent blog at European research on whether a standardised response to surrogacy within the EU was achievable.A similar piece of research is underway via the Hague Conference, on a broader scale.
Those with experience of transnational surrogacy in any capacity – commissioning parents, surrogate mothers, legal advisers, etc – are invited to share them by contacting the Hague Conference’s Permanent Bureau.Legal professionals with relevant practical experience are invited to complete a Questionnaire online.Responses close at the end of September 2013,
Those considering surrogacy – whether as commissioning parents or surrogates – should seek specialist advice as early in the process as possible.If there are potential problems with a surrogacy arrangement, early identification and management will help ensure a positive outcome.