Fighting against the patriarchal society these women embraced parenthood alone. They stand tall, without a man by their side, grabbing onto the little hands of their loved younger ones. We salute these bold ones. Here are a few of India’s Single Mothers via IVF.
In a patriarchal society like India, where the paternity of a child is asked for in every major step in the child’s life, some mothers like Eleena Banik, Anindita Sarbadhicari, Nanki Hans, and many others chose the different path of remaining single but having their own biological baby. They opted to have a child through assisted reproduction technology (ART) or more specifically IVF, In vitro fertilization.
Single mothers conceiving a baby from an unknown sperm donor may be a concept that might be gaining traction in the West but is still relatively new in India. However, A woman in India, who has crossed the age of 18 years, has the right to become pregnant through an IVF procedure. Even with this law prevailing it is still not easy for single women to get a doctor’s assistance to get pregnant. Many are denied just because they are single and told to get married instead.
When Eleena Banik, an artist from Kolkata decided she wanted a baby, she did not have any man in her life. But she was a person who had always preached about single parenthood and hence when the time came she chose to be an IVF mom. With the help of a doctor from Delhi, her daughter Amaravati was born in 2012. Eleena Banik says that she opted for IVF because she believes that a woman should be able to choose how they become a mother. She did not want to get married just to have a baby without finding the right person.
For Anindita Sarbadhicari also the reason for opting for IVF was because there wasn’t a man in her life at the time she decided to have a baby. Instead of adopting she wanted to experience pregnancy, the feeling of having a child growing inside her, and the joy of breastfeeding. Anindita is a film-maker from Kolkata, an alumnus of both the National School of Drama and The Film and Television Institute of India. She was initially denied an IFV pregnancy because she was single. Anindita only succeeded in her second attempt at pregnancy and was gifted with her son Agnisnato.
Inspired by the stories of the two women, Bengali filmmakers Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha have made a film Ekla Chalo Re (You Walk Alone). Both Eleena and Anindita had support from their parents.
However, even before these two Nanki Hans traveled to the UK, where her mother worked in the social services to give birth to her son Sufi, in 1997. Nanki encountered some difficulties while the admission of her son to school. All the schools demanded the father’s name and it took Nanki a while to get Sufi admitted to a good school of her choice.
By Indian laws, the name and identity of the sperm donor cannot be disclosed. This is an apt law since the paternity of the kid born through IVF should go to the child’s parents/parent who is raising the kid. The rights of single mothers have been recognised by the Supreme Court in 2015. The Supreme Court has directed municipal bodies not to insist on the name of the father while using birth certificates in the case of single mothers. However, we still have to see the effectiveness of this law.
Recently, in 2021, A 32-year-old woman, who got pregnant through IVF, had approached the Kerala High Court against the rule insisting on details of the father of the child in the birth register since the Kerala birth register system still insists on having the father’s name on the certificate. And as schools and many other government facilities are still insisting on both father’s and mother’s name, we hope for a change in the future as more and more single mothers are coming up in the country. And even when many single IVF moms prefer to stay nameless, we hope to see more fearless single mothers openly stand in society as a symbol of a positive change.
- Written by Poorna Krishnan