Undesired, embedded above, is a short documentary about the pressure and violence Indian women face for having sons. This pressure results in abortions, in abandonment, in violence, and in murder.
Walter Astrada is a documentary photographer who records images of violence against women around the world. For this piece he faced the challenge of getting access to people’s homes and other private areas. With the access he does get, he captures some harrowing images, particularly of women who were burned for not bearing their husbands sons.
Undesired features a mix of still photography and short interviews with a mother challenging the system, a journalist who offers commentary, and with Astrada himself. The mother, who is a doctor with twin daughters, was beaten by her husband for keeping them. Oddly, her first interview in this short piece offers no synchronous sound, only her voice in voiceover as the camera frames her body and even an extreme close-up on her face. This unsettling effect seems to disempower her, even though hers is the voice of a survivor’s experience.
Both the journalist and Astrada also offer commentary explaining the situation. Titles further explain some of the background, though the details they offer need to provide more context or more pointed information. The opening title states, “India is a diverse country, divided by class and ethnicity. But all women confront the cultural pressure to bear a son.” With the additional materials associated with the film, a map shows the birth rates for girls in various parts of the country, with higher concentrations in the northern regions. More details such as these, as well as about which castes and such, would provide more context.
More information about the situation is available through this essay. The documentary short provides a haunting starting point, but this essay offers much more context and background.