29 November, 2020

Buying Wombs And Babies

A nationwide ‘adoption’ market flourishes with illegal buyers and sellers, even a whiff of global networks and organ trade

Reshma Bibi’s daughter suspects her baby was sold off by Sohan nursing home in Bhaduria, West Bengal
Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
Buying Wombs And Babies

A top the first floor balcony of a two-storey house in Bhaduria, a small town in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, a decaying façade has the following Bengali words etched in cement: “Niraash aadharey khoda…Tumi hey aashar noor (In this hopeless gloom, you are the only ray of hope).” Below it, a large signboard reads: “Sohan Nursing Home and Polyclinic.” The privately owned clinic, locals tell Outlook, had built quite a reputation in the neighbourhood as a philanthropic establishment specialising in “unwanted pregnancies”—helping “unwed mothers” give birth. For many women from poor families who had few options except such clinics, it would indeed have seemed like a “ray of hope”. The shutter came crashing down after a CID (Criminal Investigation Dep­artment) team raided the place late on November 21 and claimed to have busted a baby-trafficking racket.

According to the CID, the West Bengal Police’s detective wing, the sleuths first arrested a local...



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