by Walter Astrada
In India, all women must confront the cultural pressure to bear a son. The consequences of this preference is a disregard for the lives of women and girls. From birth until death they face a constant threat of violence. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/undesired
© Walter Astrada
© Walter Astrada - Sonia, 12 years old, polishes semi-precious stones with three of her seven sisters in her home in Jaipur, Rajasthan, known as the Indian “city of gems.” She earns INR 50 rupees (USD $1) per day, most of which goes toward helping her family save for the dowry and wedding expense they will pay when she marries. INR 200,000 rupees will be needed to pay the expenses of her wedding.
© Walter Astrada - A group of people dance during a wedding celebration in Ludhiana, Punjab. November 21, 2009
© Walter Astrada - A woman cleans the street as her husband and son look on in the village of Bhutta, Fatehgarh Sahib district, Punjab. This district is known for having the most disproportionate juvenile sex ratios in India; around 750 girls per 1000 boys. November 19, 2009.
© Walter Astrada - A group of men drink tea outside a shop with posters of baby boys and Baba Budha Ji outside the gates to the Gurdwara Bir Baba Budha Sahib in the village of Thatta. Baba Budha Ji, a venerated saint in early Sikhism, spent much of his life (1506-1631) here. Millions of people visit the site each year to seek the saint’s blessing of a son. November 17, 2009
© Walter Astrada - A boy sleeps on the floor of a temple as a group of women pray during a wedding ceremony in Punjab. November 15, 2009.
© Walter Astrada - A group of pregnant women wait for ultrasound examinations at a medical clinic in Haryana, India; the procedure is a vital diagnostic tool but can also be used to determine the sex of the fetus. A poster over their heads warns that sex-selective abortion is illegal and carries a sentence of five years in jail. The law, passed in 1994, penalizes medical professionals who contribute to female foeticide by revealing the sex. September 19, 2009.
© Walter Astrada - A nurse takes care of abandoned baby girls in the Life Line Trust Home in Salem, Tamil Nadu. In its latest initiative to wipe out the practice of female foeticide and female infanticide, the government of Tamil Nadu has set up homes where unwanted girls can be abandoned. February 8, 2010.
© Walter Astrada - Suman, 19, cooks as her husband stands at the door of their house in the village of Madina, Haryana. Born and raised in Assam, Suman was forcibly brought to Madina by a trafficker and sold to her husband for INR 40,000 rupees (USD $842) at the age of 17. Some 20 years after the onset of sex-selective abortion, young men in India now face a shortage of eligible brides and are prepared to take desperate measures. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in trafficking of women from other regions of India or from countries such as Bangladesh or Nepal. October 2, 2009.
© Walter Astrada - A woman touches her head as she crouches in the courtyard of a protection home in Rothak, Haryana. Most of the residents were rescued after being trafficked to be sold as wives or to work as prostitutes in Haryana and Delhi. The home provides physical protection but offers few other resources to women who are traumatized on many levels (physical, mental, emotional, and psychological) by their experiences. November 2, 2009
Photographs: Walter Astrada/Alexia Foundation/Reportage by Getty Images