‘Parents act as if they are buying babies in a market’

Kishwar Desai, 56, Writer
Kishwar Desai, 56, Writer Photo: Dijeshwar Singh

What inspired your book The Sea of Innocence?
I’d been reading about endless rape cases in newspapers. Women were becoming pawns for the media. They were paraded in front of inquisitive cameras, asked questions, and subjected to all sorts of insinuations. Most of these cases would be high profile ones, where there was a minister or an MLA involved. Otherwise, most rape cases were small, but daily, stories in newspapers. I found that very disturbing. I wanted to take the story to a logical end. If someone gets raped in this country, what all happens to her?

How has technology affected sexuality and the reproductive process in India?
Due to technological advancements, the reproductive process has become a means for creating children for other people. This is being done in the absence of a law. The surrogate mothers don’t have a voice. They are not allowed to talk to the doctors. An 18-year-old girl died last year, because of an overdose of fertility drugs used to harvest her eggs. You can’t pump hormones into women’s bodies and expect them to function normally. Parents act as if they buy their babies in a supermarket. Surrogate mothers find giving up the baby very difficult. They go through post-partum depression, but no one looks into that.

What must be done to broaden the lens through which we view sexuality?
We must look at how families treat gender within the household. What compels them to be patriarchal? Why is sexuality never discussed at home? Why are boys not taught how to behave with women? Why is the respect that women should expect non-existent? We need to turn our gaze towards our families.

Though widely discussed, why haven’t things changed?
The discussion has to enter the popular discourse, which is what I’m trying to do. I’m not writing books that are difficult to read, statistically crowded and filled with data. It should enter our consciousness through pop culture. I don’t want the next generation to make the same mistakes that our generation made.


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