2009 — professional
Walter Astrada, born in Argentina in 1974, is a freelancer based in Kampala, Uganda, and is a stringer for Agence France-Presse. In 1996, he started his career as staff photographer in La Nacion newspaper (Argentina). In 1999 he traveled in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia and Peru developing a personal project on "Faith."
In September 1999 he joined The Associated Press in Bolivia and later in Argentina. From 2000 to 2002 he worked for the Associated Press in Paraguay. During 2003, he worked as a freelancer in Buenos Aires and Madrid, then at the end of 2003 he rejoined the Associated Press based in the Dominican Republic. From March 2005 until March 2006, he worked as a freelancer for Agence France Presse in the Dominican Republic and was represented and distributed by World Picture News. From March 2006 until December 2007 he was a freelancer in Spain.
Violence against women is not only the most widespread example of a human rights violation, but probably the least evident, going largely unpunished. This is shown by the reports published and research conducted by the United Nations, international human rights agencies and the global women's and feminist movements which have been denouncing this situation for decades.
It takes many forms, from domestic abuse to rape, sexual abuse and harmful cultural practices ranging from genital mutilation and honor crimes to premature marriage. In the context of wars, in which most of the refugees and displaced population are women and children, women are raped, kidnapped, mutilated and used as sex slaves; the systematic rape of women and girls has been used as a weapon in numerous armed conflicts.
The grant allowed me to travel to India to document the effects of the selective abortion of feminine fetuses and the death of women because of complications during abortions carried out in poor hygienic conditions and complications during the pregnancy and giving birth.
The practice of sex-selective abortion is the result of cultural norms that value male children over female children. According to a report of UNICEF, it causes the non-birth of almost 7.000 girls per day in India. The Lancet magazine estimates that in the last 20 years 10 million feminine fetuses have been eliminated in the country.
Likewise, the numbers of pregnant women that die each year in India from preventable causes are close to 80.000.
I used the grant to travel to the northern districts of Punjab and Haryana, where fewer than 800 girls are born to every 1000 boys. Northern Punjab is one of the worst, with just 798 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six.
The project aims at contemplating violence against women as a historic and worldwide phenomenon and my goal is to create awareness about this violence and its consequences in the life of tens of thousands of women and girls.