The girl’s mother and two accomplices were arrested for forcing her to "donate" eggs several times for assisted reproduction. India has strict laws but they are poorly enforced, allowing illegal clinics to proliferate. For Dr Carvalho (Pontifical Academy for Life), “The case in Tamil Nadu should jolt us out of our complacency” about the thriving “egg donation ‘business’”.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A man and two women have been arrested for forcing an underage girl to "donate" her eggs eight times to private fertility facilities in Erode, a city in Tamil Nadu.
Following a complaint from some of the girl’s other relatives, the police arrested her mother, the latter’s partner and another woman.
The child's mother reportedly separated from her husband and began living with her current partner, a painter, when the victim was three years old. After the girl reached puberty, the mother began selling her eggs.
The investigation found that the couple was paid 20,000 rupees (about US$ 260) per egg and 5,000 rupees (US$ 65) as broker fee. Over the past four years, the mother allegedly sold her daughter's eggs eight times to private clinics after falsifying the child’s identity papers and using a false name, age and marital status.
The girl was also allegedly sexually assaulted by her mother's partner and her mother is said to have threatened her with death if she complained about what was happening. However, last week, the girl found the courage to run away from home and tell other relatives about her situation.
Under Indian law, egg donation is subject to strict guidelines. The Surrogacy Regulation Act of 2021 prohibits commercial surrogacy, recommends that donors be no less than 21 years of age and no older than 35. The donor preferably already has a child.
“Tragically, the egg donation ‘business’ is thriving, and the violation of the women is never considered due to monetary compensation,” said Dr Pascoal Carvalho, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, speaking to AsiaNews.
Profits are huge “in the fertility industry,” he added. Hence, this has led to “unregulated clinics in small cities and towns, which escape government surveillance, making it a profitable private business.”
Sadly, “Commercialising eggs leads to humans being viewed as ‘harvestable’ for an open marketplace. Laws are in place but the rate of conviction or the level of punishment do not seem to be a deterrent.
“It seems that only when the procedure goes wrong or when someone goes to court does everyone seem to wake up. In 2010, Sushma Pandey, who was only 17, died two days after she donated eggs to a fertility clinic in Mumbai.
“In this particular case, in Tamil Nadu, we again have an underage girl,” Dr Carvalho noted. And so, “We need to make our voices heard to prevent such crimes against humans and society.”
"The Catholic Church has always defended human life in all its forms and has spoken out against procedures that degrade life.
“In 1987 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document known as Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) to address the [issue of] morality of many modern fertility procedures.”
Now “The case in Tamil Nadu should jolt us out of our complacency. Our concern should not only be for the victim or for the fate of the eggs and the embryos but also for our society, which is capable of inflicting such violence on an innocent girl in the euphemistic guise of helping couples.”