“Living Cadavers” in Bangladesh: “Living Cadavers” in Bangladesh: Bioviolence in the Human Organ Bazaar

Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2012; 26(1): 69-91

Monir Moniruzzaman

The technology-driven demand for the extraction of human organs—mainly kidneys, but also liver lobes and single corneas—has created an illegal market in body parts. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, in this article I examine the body bazaar in Bangladesh: in particular, the process of selling organs and the experiences of 33 kidney sellers who are victims of this trade. The sellers’ narratives reveal how wealthy buyers (both recipients and brokers) tricked Bangladeshi poor into selling their kidneys; in the end, these sellers were brutally deceived and their suffering was extreme. I therefore argue that the current practice of organ commodification is both exploitative and unethical, as organs are removed from the bodies of the poor by inflicting a novel form of bioviolence against them. This bioviolence is deliberately silenced by vested interest groups for their personal gain.

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