A convicted Israeli paedophile has gained custody of a 4-year-old girl born to a surrogate Indian mother, triggering assurances of a relook at foreign surrogacy rules in New Delhi and Jerusalem.
Worried that India was turning in an international hub for the rent-a-womb industry, the home ministry hadto an last year shut the doors on foreign singles and gays and allowed only married heterosexual couples.
But this rule is currently under review, prompted by appeals by singles abroad and advice from the Indian Council for Medical Research. Home ministry officials said they would seek information about this case and take necessary action.
The Israeli man legally gained custody of the child through an agreement with a surrogate mother in India, Israel’s leading English newspaper, Jerusalem Post, has reported. It said authorities do not have the power to remove the girl from him.
The revelation came after an Israeli NGO for children’s rights, the National Council for the Child (NCC), found the man had served an 18-month jail sentence for sexually abusing young children under his supervision, some repeatedly.
The paper said the welfare authorities – that had been unaware of his previous conviction – had placed the man under observation and ordered him to seek psychological treatment.
NCC executive director Yitzhak Kadman called the case “a good wakeup call that there are changes that have to be made". Health Minister Yael German has promised new policies to secure the protection of children born in overseas surrogacies.
Israeli nationals have brought back nearly 200 children born to foreign surrogate mothers in the last six years.
India, however, doesn’t have a clue about the number of children born to surrogate mothers. ICMR started to register clinics using artificial reproductive techniques just a few months back.
But government officials concede there may be lessons to be learnt from the Israeli experience.
For one, he pointed, that there were no provisions for background checks for surrogate parents unlike the stringent provisions stipulated for Inter-country adoptions. Nearly 600 Indian children are given in adoption to foreigners every year.
“But this is done only after getting the antecedents of the potential parents checked through a local agency,” JK Mittal, former chairman of Central Adoption Resource Authority told HT.