Despite its status as one of the world's largest democracies, India is a country where women suffer a low status. A beggar woman shares the sidewalk with a stray dog while a man waves her away.
Women wait their turn at an ultrasound clinic in Bangalore, India. The law requires clinics to post signs in Hindi and English telling patients that sex determination is not being done there. It is illegal for doctors to tell women the sex of their babies at clinics, but they often use code, telling the women to "buy blue" or saying "it is time to celebrate" if the baby is a boy.
A woman in New Delhi holds an ultrasound image of a fetus. In India, doctors using ultrasound machines are required to fill out forms stating the reason for the procedure, which is allowed in the case of an abnormal pregnancy. The technology makes it possible for any woman to determine the sex of her child.
Varsha Hitkari is helped to a drink of water by her parents. Her husband hung her from the shower head after she gave birth to a second girl instead of the son he wanted. Her brother found her in time to save her life, but she was in a coma for six weeks and has not been
the same since. Her second daughter, Pari, 18 months old, wears a shirt that says "boy" and drinks from her bottle at their home in
Kanpur, India. Her father, Ramesh Chandra, cannot afford the 200.000 rupees (about $4,500 dollars) needed for the kind of physical
therapy she will need to recover. Local police have not arrested anyone.
A daughter of a trafficked bride cries in a village near Alwar, India. There are few prospects for females in poor villages. Girls are seen as a drain on family resources. They cannot inherit property, and dowry costs to marry them off often are too expensive for their fathers to afford.
A lone girl is surrounded by male classmates during morning prayers at a school in a village near Alwar, a town about 100 miles south of New Delhi. The greatly skewed numbers in some rural regions show 770 girl babies for every 1,000 boys. Many Indian families only send their boys to school; feeling the money for books and uniforms is too precious to be a wasted on girls.
Mahajbi is a trafficked bride who was brought to the Alwar area from Behar in the eastern region of India 14 years ago. She stands in front of her home with three of her five children. There is a shortage of brides in the village about 100 miles south of New Delhi, India. She rarely sees her family or home village.
Many girls who survive birth end up in orphanages like the one run by Mother Teresa's Missionary Sisters of Charity near Kanpur, India. Of the 40 children there, 37 are girls. Adoption is not likely because families want to pass on property to their "flesh and blood."
Kanpur-Hindu Orphanage in Kanpur, India, is filled with girls, many dropped off as infants by parents who wanted only boy babies. A
young woman who grew up in the orphanage primps at the mirror in the room she shares with several other girls like herself.
A young woman stands outside the girls dormitory at Kanpur- Hindu Orphanage in Kanpur, India. With no family or prospects, her future is uncertain.
Because of the dwindling numbers of girls in many areas of India, there are more and more frustrated young men looking for wives. Desperate men in many villages have resorted to having brides trafficked in from remote parts of the country.
Neelam Chaturvedi, left, co-founder of the women's advocacy group Sakhi Kendra in Kanpur, India, comforts Aradhana Rawat, 17, who lives at the Sakhi Kendra home in Kanpur. Sahki Kendra is sheltering the doe-eyed young woman, whose father would tie her to a bed and sexually abuse her. At one point, he tried to slit her throat with a machete. In India, women are defenseless against such attacks, as
criminal prosecution is rare.
Father of the bride, Dr. Amarjeet Singh, stuffs envelopes full of monetary gifts into a bag held by his wife, Rupinder Kaur, left, while their daughter Taranjeet Kaur, right, enters the reception hall during her wedding at Bhatia Palace in Paonta Sahib, India. The money will go to the groom's family in addition to the refrigerator, TV, washing machine, clothes and DVD player already given. Most marriages are
arranged by family members in India, and the father of the bride must pay a huge dowry to the groom's family. Dowries were prohibited by Indian law in 1961, but the practice is still very much in place.
At the nuptials of Gagandeep Singh, his bride, Taranjeet Kaur, clutches money wrapped into the ends of the chunni draped around his neck and follows him around the Sikh priest and altar during their wedding ceremony in Paonta Sahib, India.
Rakshana Begum, right, squats in a corner of her house in the shadow of her husband. There is a shortage of brides in the village about 100 miles south of New Delhi, India, so her husband paid 4,000 rupees or $90 to have her trafficked in from northern India. Husband Israel Khan, 26, says, "I was poor and couldn't get a wife here." Rakshana has given him two sons. He is no longer poor; he owns five water buffaloes and a cell phone.
An Indian family rides through the streets of Bangalore, India. Indian women are often stuck in marriages with men they do not choose, raising only sons. Sons are preferred in India because boys will be more prosperous and take care of their aging parents. They carry on the family name and are the ones to inherit family wealth.