Even as India has emerged as a hub for surrogacy, both domestic and from abroad, a new study reveals that majority of the surrogate mothers are neither properly paid nor cared for.
The Centre for Social Research says the surrogate mothers are paid only one to two percent of what the commissioning parents pay for a baby.
"The commissioning parents pay anything between Rs.40-45 lakh for a surrogate baby, but these women get barely Rs.2-3 lakh," Ranjana Kumari, director of CSR, said.
According to the study, 46 percent of respondents in Delhi and 44 percent in Mumbai said they received Rs.3-4 lakh for surrogacy while 42 percent in Mumbai and 22 percent in Delhi got Rs.2-4 lakh.
Only 26 percent in Delhi said they earned above Rs.4 lakh.
Manasi Mishra, head of the research team which brought out the report, said the women were kept either in hostels or in isolated flats or hotel rooms, out of bounds from their own families.
In many cases, their nutritional or health needs were not taken care of.
"We have seen cases where they have billed the commissioning parents for articles like health drinks but the woman had never even seen a health drink," said Mishra.
"If the woman has a miscarriage or has some health issues after the delivery, she is not taken care of," Mishra added.
The researchers also highlighted that touts or middlemen had a big role in the whole business. Nearly 74 percent of surrogate mothers in Delhi and Mumbai said these agents were their primary source of information.
"According to (estimates), surrogacy is an industry worth $2.3 billion," Ranjana Kumari said.
The activists say there is no law on surrogacy.
"Despite the fact that India is becoming a hub for surrogacy, we don't even know if it is legal or illegal because there is no law," Ranjani Kumari said.
"We are not against surrogacy, but the unregulated commercial nature it has acquired is a serious issue," she said.
The study adds that nearly 40 percent of the parents who opt for surrogacy are NRIs or foreigners while 60 percent are Indians.