Summary: With kidney trafficking a thriving illegal business in India, it is not unheard of for poor Indians to sell their kidneys, but this woman claims she had no knowledge of what happened.
A West Bengal woman went to the hospital two years ago for a sharp pain in her abdomen. Rita Sarkar, 28, had a sharp ache that was not going away, so she asked her Husband to take her to the medical facility in Kolkata.
Sarkar’s father told The Washington Post that the facility “convinced her she needed an operation.” The medical staff allegedly told her she needed an appendectomy immediately. She had surgery that very day.
After the surgery, Sarkar said, “My husband warned me not to disclose the surgery in Kolkata to anyone.” She was kept inside their home for multiple months, but the pain in her abdomen grew in intensity and location. She asked to go back to the hospital, but her husband refused to take her back this time.
After over a year of pain, Sarkar’s father took her to a nearby medical center, the largest health-care facility in the northern area of West Bengal. At the hospital, an ultrasound of her belly discovered that her right Kidney was gone and her left kidney was infected. Her father said, “She’s still very ill.”
Sarkar has since filed a complaint with the West Bengal police. Her husband, Biswajit Sarkar, has been arrested as well as his brother Shyamal Sarkar.
It is believed that Sarkar’s husband sold her right kidney to make up for her family’s failure to pay her whole dowry. He has admitted to selling the kidney to a businessman in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. Sarkar told the New Indian Express, “Now, I understand why he forbade me to reveal anything. He and his family tortured me during the past 12 years of marriage for dowry and when my family failed to meet their demands, they sold my kidney.”
When the couple was married in 2005, her family gave his family gold, silver and 180,000 rupees in cash, “but they kept asking for more.” Dowries have been banned since 1961 in India, but families still practice the payment system. More laws were introduced in the 80s, trying to protect married women from abuse when families don’t agree or deliver on the agreed dowry. Some women have been murdered over the lack of a full payment.
Sarkar’s husband claims she agreed to donate her kidney, even signing the consent letter, but she denies that. The investigators believe that her kidney was sold as part of an organ-trafficking ring, many of which are well entrenched throughout India. Organ traffickers have robbed poor people of their kidneys, selling them to rich people all over the world.
One of largest kidney trafficking rings in the world was uncovered in 2008 in Gurgaon. The police found men posing as doctors, enticing poor laborers who were new to the city and needing money, producing countless kidneys for them to sell to buyers from countries including Canada, Dubai, Greece, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Many of the buyers were coming to India with a tourist visa.
The police arrested the “kidney kingpin” who was running the ring, and the country tightened their laws for organ exchanges. Even with the stricter rules, the black market for organs is still very profitable in India. The Voluntary Health Association of India estimates that roughly 2,000 Indians sell a kidney each year. Other rings have been uncovered throughout the country. One even involved doctors and the director of a major hospital in India.
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To learn more about other trafficking news, read these articles:
- Supply & Demand: Lucrative Black Market for Dog Meat in Vietnam Perpetuates Pet Trafficking
- Largest United States Human Trafficking Event Is the Super Bowl
- A “Sprawling Black-Market Bazaar”