Out of Order

Indian State has crept into our bedroom, but not to protect us

With altruistic surrogacy, outlawing porn and sexuality, government has become the most unsettling voyeur.

 |  Out of Order  |  4-minute read |   24-08-2016
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In bedrooms today, somewhere near king-sized beds, a heap of clothes — washed and unwashed; bras we, at peak liberation, fling when we get home — on overburdened chairs, drawers which house vibrators and viagra, a hiding place for my questionable browser history, a sex life or the lack thereof, a sexuality both legal and outlawed, sits the most unsettling voyeur — the Indian State.

It won't outlaw a husband who uses force for fellatio and strong-arms for sex, but it controls what we can post or watch, which parts of us can be consensually penetrated, whom we get to live with and how we can use our bodies to accomplish something it believes they were essentially made for — popping babies.

There's the long drawn-out fight against Section 377 and there's many heroes of the Hindutva brigade (some fringe, some not-so-much) asking us what stops us from spouting more Hindu heroes (I doubt they meant heroines, but let's not put words in their mouths). And today, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has given us a new Surrogacy Bill that further tells us conditions under which to spawn.

Also read: Supermom of State, Sushma Swaraj, gifts India a sanskari Surrogacy Bill

Said Bill aims to "shut down India's surrogacy industry which has thrived on the misery of poor women". This is a fair starting point, since, while it is difficult to actually enter the mind of every surrogate, there have been several reports of women choosing surrogacy over prostitution (a benchmark that doesn't exactly scream "choice") or that they do it to financially support their families.

Rehabilitation of women who will now lose their livelihood as this Bill rids the country of commercial surrogacy is a different matter altogether and perhaps a subject for a different article.

surr_082416074409.jpg Sushma Swaraj has given us a new Surrogacy Bill that further tells us conditions under which to spawn.

Other integral features of the Bill include those eligible to turn to surrogacy. These are (pardon the similarity some of them bear to a matrimonial ad) heterosexual, Indian, childless, couples who have been married for a minimum of five years; women between 23 and 50 years and men up to 55 years. And now for the unqualified outcasts (to both seek surrogates and in society, generally)— homosexuals (how can you raise a baby from prison?), widows, couples in live-in relationships (which the State says is illegal, but the Supreme Court says is not), divorcees and single parents.

I mean, why would you go the rational route and just assess people on their ability to actually raise children and not impose your societal backwardness on future parents? The couple (mostly the woman) ought to have exhausted all other means and methods of baby-making before turning to surrogacy. And finally, commercial surrogacy will now be blanket replaced by altruistic surrogacy — where a close relative can play surrogate.

So us child-bearers, otherwise known as mothers and daughters and never as women, will now be told how many (number varies depending on which religious goon feels empowered enough) babies to produce and under what conditions. People will dictate who will bear our children (why is it okay for "close-relatives" to be surrogates if the idea is to ban surrogacy altogether — can relatives not be forced to tote toddlers in their wombs by force? Do we bear them with a Hindu or a Muslim? Men of this caste or that? Not a live-in partner, not our husband of four years and 11 months).

The womb-despot will now order the yardstick on the hardships we must face before which we may turn to surrogacy. The sexuality-superior already tells us that we cannot copulate with a person of the same sex, and now it tells us we cannot turn to a surrogate with them either.

And true to form, the State, this selective voyeur tosses the term "altruism" and "culture" around to make its case. Thanks, but our wombs and sexuality in varied conditions, cannot be crammed neatly under your favourite umbrellas of defence.

Stay the hell out of our bedrooms. And if you really must come in, come in to protect us from the husbands that rape us.

Writer

Asmita Bakshi Asmita Bakshi @asmitabee

The writer is a law graduate and ball of rage. She tweets @asmitabee and eats everywhere

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