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After Shilpa Shetty announced the birth of her second child via surrogacy, she was trolled for choosing that option. When will we stop shaming women for their decisions?
Actress Shilpa Shetty announced the birth of her second child, a daughter on 21st February. Shilpa is a celebrity who has created a niche of her own by promoting healthy living and fitness. She is married to businessman Raj Kundra and the couple has a seven-year-old son, Viaan.
The 44 year old actress became a mother for the second time via surrogacy. And while the internet thronged her with celebratory messages, she was also trolled atrociously by a segment of people. These ‘all knowing’ and percipient souls shamed her for not having a child the natural way.
Some accused her saying she went in for surrogacy because she ‘cares more about her figure than having a baby.’ Then there were people (ironically women) who questioned her ‘motherhood’ because she did not keep the baby in her womb for nine months. People also called her out for not thinking of adoption as an option. These accusations come across as illogical and bizarre. I believe a woman has all the right to choose when and how to embrace motherhood. And a woman does not become a mother by merely giving birth to a baby naturally. As for ‘adoption,’ it is a different argument altogether.
Women are constantly judged for the way they choose to lead their lives. If a woman does not beget a child a few years into her marriage, she is questioned from all fours as to when she would give ‘them’ the ‘good news’. The society does not realise that she may not be ready to have a child yet, she might be having problems conceiving or she does not intend to become a mother in the first place. A woman who has a single child is often labeled ‘selfish’ as she exempts her child from having a sibling. Not only that, women are even judged for the kind of pregnancies they have. In a nutshell, the judgement never ceases to exist for women.
Celebrities too, face the brunt of this perpetual judgment as they are constantly in the public eye. And a man is hardly ever brought into this entire conversation of parenthood, which is baffling. In Shilpa’s case too, no one is pointing fingers at her husband despite the fact that parenthood is a mutual decision of the couple.
It is mortifying that being judgmental comes very easily to our society. Snide remarks are passed. Value-judgments are made and a set of dos and don’ts are laid down by people at large. And to make things worse, in the current era of Twitter and Instagram, lewd remarks are slashed at you by invisible forces just with the click of a button.
We live in the twenty first century wherein a number of medical breakthroughs have enabled women to become mothers despite medical complications. There are women who yearn to become mothers but cannot do so owing to several reasons.
And there also are women whose biological clock ran out, yet they want to experience the joys of motherhood. The point is that surrogacy cannot be looked down upon in any way. It is a means to bestow the bliss of parenthood to anyone who wants a child.
While talking about surrogacy we must also know that steps were taken to ban commercial surrogacy in India in 2015 and in 2016 when a Surrogacy Regulation Bill was passed by Lok Sabha. The Bill thereby ‘proposed to permit only heterosexual Indian couples, married for at least five years with infertility problems, to access altruistic or unpaid surrogacy.’
As of now, this needs to be passed by the Upper House before commercial surrogacy is actually banned and measures to safeguard the surrogates are put to practice. Surrogates in India are paid between 60,000 and 50,000 rupees for each pregnancy. Clinics earn around 2 million rupees for surrogacy services. These women mostly belong to the poor section of the society and opt to become surrogates owing to financial woes.
While surrogacy offers hope to millions of couples we need to protect the rights of these marginalised women who put their health and life at stake. Hopefully, the law will come into place in 2020 and the commercialisation of surrogacy would be checked and curb exploitation of these women.
Actor Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao were the very first Bollywood celebrity couples to have opted for surrogacy. They welcomed their son Azad in December 2011. Aamir talked about it openly. He shared how Kiran went through several miscarriages and uterine complications. This made them turn to surrogacy. He was praised by the media for talking about a much hushed up topic. And also for opening up the road to couples who could resort to surrogacy as a means of experiencing parenthood. In Hollywood too, celebrity couples like Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Pompeo, and Nicole Kidman have turned to surrogacy.
So, when today another celebrity opted for surrogacy, why do we feel the need to shame and troll her? Shilpa has not mentioned her reasons for resorting to surrogacy. And even if she did, we must not judge her for it is her decision and she has the right to do what she deems right for her and her family.
Parenthood is a choice the couple makes. At the end of the day, there is a child who is welcomed whole-heartedly by a loving mother. And I believe that is what matters the most.
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