They're pregnant, they've been 'rescued', and now, they have nowhere to go.
The fate of 48 women who signed up to be surrogate mothers but were caught in an illegal operation is now uncertain, after the Hyderabad police raided a fertility centre that hired them, on Saturday evening.
The Kiran Fertility Centre at Sai Kiran Hospital in Banjara Hills was running an illegal surrogacy racket. They were not following any norms, and the surrogate mothers were kept confined inside the building for nine months, until they gave birth. They were provided food, medicine and Rs 10,000 as subsistence allowance.
The women were allegedly being paid only a fraction of what the fertility centre collected from their clients.
Following the raid by the Hyderabad Central Zone Task Force on Saturday evening, the 48 surrogate mothers have nowhere to go. The women are caught in the red tape, with officials calling them 'illegal pregnancies'.
“So far, they have not been shifted. But the moot question is where should they be shifted to. These are illegal pregnancies and not in tandem with the existing guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research,” said a senior officer told Deccan Chronicle.
Reportedly, the ball is now in the district collector's court.
According to DC, 60% of the clients were non-resident Indian and 40% were single parents; the clients are not expected to return following the raid on the centre.
So not only are the women pregnant, they also have no money as they were promised a payment only after childbirth.
The commercial surrogacy industry
While there is a bill in Parliament to ban commercial surrogacy in India, officials say that there are several centres offering surrogacy services in the city which do not follow any proper rules. The surrogate mothers are reportedly kept in apartments in Panjagutta, Somajiguda and Banjara Hills.
An official from the health department told The New Indian Express that at a fertility centre located near Uppal, around 30 surrogate mothers have been confined in flats.
Even though the issue was brought to the notice at a Medical Council meeting around four months ago, the report said that the officials could not come to a conclusion on the aftermath of a crackdown.