Undesired: Selective Sex Abortion in India by Walter Astrada

SALEM, INDIA – FEBRUARY 8, 2010: A group of girls sleep together at 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 Indian government has set up a network of “cradle houses” where parents can leave unwanted baby girls. Walter Astrada/Alexia Foundation

Yesterday, we dedicated a post to looking at some of the images Alexia Grantees have produced on violence against women. Among those photos were works by Walter Astrada, a man who has spent more than six years examining the theme around the world.

Walter Astrada used his Alexia Foundation grant to visit India to illuminate the issue of selective sex abortion, a practice rampant in all of Asia, with his “Undesired: Violence Against Women in India.” There are nearly 100 million fewer women on the continent because of it.

“Truthfully, it was very difficult” said Walter, “The people knew that what they were doing was bad, but they did it, whether it be because of pressure from the families or from society in generally.”

The people knew that what they were doing was bad, but they did it, whether it be because of pressure from the families or from society in generally

Selective sex abortion, and the resulting gender imbalance brings further problems, which Walter also shows. There are not enough women for marriages, so this leads to human trafficking. Girls who are born are given fewer resources, receive less medical treatment, less food and less education. Many are made to begin working for their dowries at very young ages.

Walter did not limit his work to the direct consequences of the practice, but looked at the treatment overall of women in the country. This broader view of the culture and the negative perception of women helps explain why the practice of selective sex abortion can exist. Walter found that in India, women suffer violence at every age, from the womb until the tomb.

Walter’s work is powerful. The Alexia Foundation arranged for him to work with MediaStorm to produce a multimedia piece which gives the issue a tremendous breath and depth. Among many other honours, the project received an Alfred I. duPont Award, considered to be the most prestigious broadcast journalism awards. The work has been screened around the world, bringing attention to this important and heartbreaking issue.

The Alexia Foundation supports our grantees to produce stories and images that drive change. See previous photos of the day here.

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