As a part of its efforts to broaden the discussions on ARTs and Surrogacy, Sama has been screening its film Can We See the Baby Bump Please for various audiences. Each screening is followed by discussions where various issues related to the phenomenon of surrogacy, rights of the surrogate, rights of the children born out of surrogacy, legal engagement with the issue, etc. figured prominently. Broadly the screenings were held with the following groups at the community level:
a) Screenings in urban resettlement areas
- The film was screened on 28th August 2015 at Janta Mazdoor Colony which was attended by 47 women. Many of them expressed that they were not aware of the phenomenon of surrogacy and its proliferation in India. Discussions took place on the issues of compensation, health risks of surrogates and the children born out of surrogacy, the process of surrogacy, insurance, motherhood, informed consent, and the Draft Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill 2013.
- Community workers from various bastis in Delhi came together during a screening of the film held at Gautam Puri, an urban resettlement colony on 21st June 2015. An audience of 20 women grassroots workers watched the film and participated in discussion afterwards regarding the practice of commercial surrogacy and its impact on women’s bodies.
- Sama conducted screenings in association with Action India in the basti of Seemapuri in West Delhi in November 2014 which was attended by 30-35 women from the community. Participants shared that they had heard of local clinics and agents seeking surrogates from amongst basti residents thereby bringing into focus the ways in which urban slums are turning into target areas for recruitment for the surrogacy industry.
The basti screenings have been an interesting exercise in understanding how public perception regarding surrogacy was being constructed in an urban slum.
b) In rural areas
As part of continued engagement with grassroots organizations and community workers, four screenings of the film were carried out in the districts of Dewas and Indore of Madhya Pradesh in the month of February 2015. The screenings were held in association with Eklavya, a non-governmental organization working on education. The film screenings and discussions were organised with different groups like young women and community level activists working on varied social issues. Some of the issues that were flagged during the discussion included: breast feeding, citizenship of the child born out of surrogacy, international rules that regulate surrogacy outside India, inadequacy in the information given to the surrogate mother on the health risks associated with this arrangement, death of the surrogate mother during the gestation period or at the time of the delivery and whether any insurance protection or compensation is given to her. Discussions on the practice of egg donation and questions around the influence of the dominant caste system in such practices were also flagged. The role of agents, doctors and others in the industry was discussed based on Sama’s research as well as the film.