Selected news stories from the international press relating to Asian (In)Fertilities:
Childless Indian couples demand to know 'caste' of sperm donors - Telegraph
(7 April 2009)
Childless couples in India are demanding to know the caste of sperm donors before going ahead with fertility treatment, leading gynecologists have confirmed.
Campaigners for India's 'untouchable' caste – who perform degrading jobs and suffer violence and persecution – on Monday night denounced the practice and said it highlighted how low-caste "dalits" were discriminated against even before conception. The practice emerged in Bihar, one of India's poorest, backward and caste-ridden states, where high-caste Brahmins and Yadavs believe they will be polluted if their wives bear a child whose natural father is a "dalit". Violence against lower castes, whose presence is regarded as "dirty", remains common in India, particularly in rural areas where there have been cases of boys being killed for having a crush on an upper caste girl, and women thrashed for drawing water from wells reserved for upper castes. In one particularly brutal case, a dalit man was beaten so badly he lost his arms and legs because he would not drop a complaint over the gang-rape of his daughter by upper castes. One of the Bihar's leading gynecologists told a local newspaper the demand from couples to know the caste of sperm donors was insistent. "Name, address and contact details are kept anonymous, but people are insistent, almost fanatical about caste. We can't give it to them on paper, but we find we have to tell them," said Dr Saurav Kumar, who owns the sperm bank, Frozen Cell, in Patna, Bihar. He later denied his firm disclosed donors' caste status, but told The Daily Telegraph that ten per cent of his clients demanded to know. One leading Delhi gynaecologist, who asked not to be named, said the practice was common in India, especially in poor states like Bihar. "People are asking about caste, and also about religion. We try to match caste, religion, IQ, and physical appearance. "If someone is a dark south Indian, and the donor is north Indian, the baby will not look the same. Maybe they [the clients] don't know, but it's our duty. I match the castes, but patients are innocent," he said. Dalit rights campaigner, Dr Udit Raj, said the practice reflected the "Indian reality." "It's a mindset. The woman would be divorced, she would be considered impure and shunned by her own community, and sometimes beaten. These people are ignorant upper castes and for them mixing is a real problem. It's so deeply embedded that it's considered even before birth," he said.