The case of Sakunthala, a 27- year old adivasi woman in Salem district of TN, highlights how difficult it is to speak of ‘choice’ in matters like surrogate motherhood, ovum sale, and so on, in patriarchal society and in a rampantly commercialized context.
Sakunthala and her friend, CPI(ML) activist Selvi, were attacked with a knife by Sakunthala’s husband Navaraj at Komarapalayam in Salem (a centre for illegal organ racket). Shakunthala told the police in her statement that she was forced by Navaraj to donate her kidney in 2006 in a Coimbatore hospital, for which he got Rs 1 lakh. He also forced her to be a surrogate mother. And he and her mother-in-law forced her to donate her fertile eggs 18 times in various hospitals in Tamilnadu and Kerala. The money earned wasn’t saved in Shakunthala’s or her daughter’s name. She took shelter at her friend Selvi’s place in a bid to escape her abusive husband, but he tracked her there and attacked them both. Both are now recovering. Selvi brought up the matter with the Komarapalayam branch of the CPI(ML) and the party’s efforts ensured that the FIR has been lodged and Navaraj arrested.