Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning about the Roles and rights of girls in India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
With the photo stories from India the photographer is looking at the treatment and status of girls in India. As in any society this status is usually closely related to the status of women in that culture and in cultures where women have a low societal position, girls may be unwanted by their parents and the state may invest less in services for girls. Girls' upbringing ranges from being relatively the same as that of boys to complete sex segregation and completely different gender roles.
With the photo stories from India the photographer is looking at the treatment and status of girls in India. As in any society this status is usually closely related to the status of women in that culture and in cultures where women have a low societal position, girls may be unwanted by their parents and the state may invest less in services for girls. Girls' upbringing ranges from being relatively the same as that of boys to complete sex segregation and completely different gender roles.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
–€ Updated on June 17, 2024

Girls in India

India is fascinating, complex and feared and there are probably only a few countries where minds are so divided. The country, which is mainly influenced by Hinduism, is characterized on the one hand by a multifaceted, colorful and "exotic" culture and the hospitality of its inhabitants is unparalleled, on the other hand the overpopulation and the resulting problems of for instance girls and their rights, the often dilapidated infrastructure and certain peculiarities of the Indians attract many visitors the stay difficult.

Why are there more girls in India?

The health ministry said this was the first time ever that the female population had surpassed the male population in India. One official said this was due to the measures taken by the government for women's empowerment. Some reports hailed it as a massive achievement and a demographic shift.

Significant challenges
As the world's second-most populous country, India is home to 1.3 billion people and it is also a country where, in many places, girls and women continue to face significant challenges. India has a gender ratio of 933 females for every 1,000 males and this gender gap has been attributed to a variety of factors, including female infanticide, neglect and gender-biased sex selection. These practices, especially in rural areas, result in a disproportionate number of boys being born and surviving, leading to a gender imbalance that continues to worsen. In addition to the gender gap, girls in India often face discrimination and gender-based violence.

A report found that India is the world's most dangerous country for women, due in part to the prevalence of child marriage, acid attacks and trafficking. Despite these challenges, girls and women in India have made great strides in recent years. In recent years the Indian government passed the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' program, which aims to reduce gender bias and increase the survival rate of girls and the program has been implemented in over 600 districts across the country and has had a positive impact on gender-based discrimination.

In addition, the Indian government has taken steps to increase the participation of girls in education and 'The Right to Education Act' guarantees free and compulsory education to all children in India ages 6-14 and the government has established multiple initiatives to increase the enrollment of girls in school.

Despite the challenges that girls and women in India still face, the country has made great progress in recent years in terms of gender equality. With continued initiatives from the government and civil society, there is hope that girls and women in India will continue to enjoy greater rights and opportunities in the future.

Positive and less positive in India

The constant alternation of positive and less positive, even shocking experiences subjects many travelers to an emotional roller coaster. What helps to keep the emotional pendulum from swinging too much in one direction is knowledge of the girls position in India and to have the knowledge that avoids misunderstandings and inspires tolerance. The Photographer, who has traveled in India is seeing the mysterious caste system and the relationship between the sexes as well as with Indian business practices, table manners and the contrasts between modernity and tradition fueled by globalization.

Gender influences the pattern
There are gaps in access between different regions and countries and even within countries. Gender influences the pattern of child labour. Girls tend to be asked by their families to perform more domestic work in their parental home than boys are and often at younger ages than boys. Employment as a paid domestic worker is the most common form of child labour for girls. In some places, such as East and Southeast Asia, parents often see work as a domestic servant as a good preparation for marriage. Domestic service, however, is among the least regulated of all professions and exposes workers to serious risks, such as violence, exploitation and abuse by the employers, because the workers are often isolated from the outside world.

When it comes to Child labour in India it has a very negative effect on education and girls either stop their education or when they continue it, they are often subjected to a double burden or a triple burden of work outside the home, housework in the parental home and schoolwork. The term 'Child labour' refers to the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school and is mentally, physically, socially and morally harmful. Such exploitation is prohibited by legislation worldwide, although these laws do not consider all work by children as child labour.

"A girl is a young female human, usually a child or an adolescent. When a girl becomes an adult, she is accurately described as a woman. However, the term girl is also used for other meanings, including young woman and is sometimes used as a synonym for daughter or girlfriend. In certain contexts, the usage of 'Girl' for a woman may be derogatory. 'Girl' may also be a term of endearment used by an adult, usually a woman, to designate adult female friends"

Obstacles to girls' access to education
Girls' equal access to education has been achieved in some countries, but there are significant disparities in the majority. In many parts of the world such as in India, girls face significant obstacles to accessing proper education. These obstacles include for instance early and forced marriage and early pregnancy and prejudice based on gender stereotypes at home, at school and in the community, violence on the way to school or in and around schools, long distances to schools, vulnerability to the 'HIV epidemic', school fees, which often lead to parents sending only their sons to school such as lack of gender sensitive approaches and materials in classrooms. Girls' health suffers in cultures where girls are valued less than boys and families allocate most resources to boys.

A major threat to girls' health is early marriage, which often leads to early pregnancy. Girls forced into child marriage often become pregnant quickly after marriage, increasing their risk of complications and maternal mortality. Such complications resulting from pregnancy and birth at young ages are a leading cause of death among teenage girls in developing countries.

Human rights issues and violations in India
India finds itself as one of the leading economic powers of the region, but still is plagued with numerous human rights issues and violations. India has had numerous issues with rape and sexual assault in past years, particular against women and children. The government has condemned these acts but has taken very few steps to truly combat said issues and as a result, they still remain immensely prevalent in Indian society today. Despite policies aimed at helping victims of rape or sexual assault being implemented, victims still face immense shame at hospitals or police stations and it is assumed that while the number of cases is already extremely high, there are many more unreported instances due simply to the potential of humiliation and there are also instances of religious violence in India.

"The rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide are formed on the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the feminist movements during the 20th and 21st centuries. In some countries, these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom and behaviour, whereas in others, they are ignored and suppressed. They differ from broader notions of human rights through claims of an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls, in favour of men and boys"

International Day of the Girl Child increases awareness of issues faced by girls around the world. Many global development plans do not include or consider girls and their issues become "invisible" and this day is celebrated annually on October 11th. It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 to recognize girls' rights and the unique challenges they face around the world. The day aims to promote girls' empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights and to draw attention to the need to address the challenges girls face.

World Pulse which a community that the photographer is a part of asked their community to share their stories and words of wisdom for the next generation of leaders, where they received more than 170 stories from members across 32 countries.

The topic of girls' rights in India is one that encompasses an immense number of states, international governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. All these institutions contribute a variety of services and perspectives towards human rights, covering topics including the enforcement, monitoring and criticisms of Human rights for girls in India. There is no single body that covers all of human rights in Asia, as such a diverse and widespread region requires a number of institutions to properly monitor the multitude of elements that fall under the scope of human rights. There have historically been numerous criticisms of human rights in India, but a variety of new treaties and conventions now strive to accomplish a level of human rights as they are known on the international stage.

Humanitarian photography in India
When something in photography is humanitarian it is an active belief in the value of human life such as with the photograph of this girl in India, whereby humans practice benevolent treatment and provide assistance to other humans to reduce suffering and improve the conditions of humanity for moral, altruistic and emotional reasons. There are a number of meanings for the term 'Humanitarian'. Here in the streets of India, humanitarian for instance pertains to the practice of human conditions and alleviating suffering. Humanitarian principles are a set of principles that governs the way humanitarian response is carried out and the principle of humanity for the Photographer also means that all humankind shall be treated humanely and equally in all circumstances, while ensuring respect and understanding for the individual.

Telling stories with pictures
While traveling in India the photographer discovered the variety of motifs that the urban environment offers from the small town to the metropolis of millions. In his numerous photographs spontaneous street scenes, people encounters and special lighting moods. In this archive story and on this website the photographer presents his favorite motifs and explain step by step how his pictures are created. He was inspired by wandering through Mumbai city and captured his favorite motif on camera with pictures that show people as they are and capture their personality in all its many facets. Kristian Bertel | Photography loves the genre of portrait photography and his versatile pictures shows you the many unstaged people that his been taking their natural portraits.

"When India is often lauded for its progress in recent years, most of the attention is focused on industrial development and economic modernization. As a result, the incredible struggles faced by millions of girls in India tend to stay in the shadows. Photographers who visit these regions with the objective to capture reality often find themselves facing the harshness of the life these girls face"

The immense beauty of India's people
"- When I set out on my trip to India, I had no idea what I would find. I was prepared to be challenged by the overwhelming hustle and bustle of the cities, but I was truly shocked by the immense beauty of India's people. Everywhere I looked there were unique faces – a perfect blend of features and expressions that made me gasp in appreciation. The first people I encountered were the children. Their faces were instantly endearing, their bright eyes sparkled behind their grubby cheeks. As I photographed these children, I felt myself connecting to them more and more. I could see the character in their faces and I could sense the personality beneath it all"
, the Photographer says.

"- As I ventured farther and farther into the country, I encountered more India's elderly population. Here the beauty was not in the youth of the face, but in the wrinkles and history written upon it. Each face held untold stories of joys and sorrows, of loves and losses. As I looked into these wise, yet often weary, eyes, I was taken aback by the sense of connection", the Photographer says again.

"- Whether I encountered the bright-eyed children, the aged faces of the elderly or India's vast array of other beautiful faces in between, I was moved by the power of each person's visage. I was truly amazed by the beauty and individuality each face possessed. It's been a few months since my journey to India and I'm still in awe of the beauty of India's faces. For those of us lucky enough to travel to India, I can't recommend it highly enough. India's beauty is truly captivating, and no other faces can compare"
, the Photographer says again.

"Photographers who visit India to take pictures of the country's girls can initially struggle to believe what they are seeing and experiencing. The extreme poverty, the cramped living conditions, the internalized sexism and the overall lack of basic necessities can be beyond imagination. These situations also make it nearly impossible to do a decent photoshoot, as no matter what you try to do, the outcome is still going to be depressing"

See this video about freedom in India made by Hindustan Times.

The photographer's own experience of girl's rights in India
"- Seeing extraordinary beauty amid such deprivation can push photographers' emotions to their extremes, often resulting in a huge mix of anger, sadness and guilt. Anger at the unfairness of the situation, sadness for the girls' pain and guilt for being privileged enough to travel to a place like India in the first place. All of these feelings can come crashing down on the photographer, making it extremely difficult to proceed with completing the assignment. Even if the photographer can eventually find the inner strength to finish the assignment, they often struggle to come to terms with witnessing such suffering and viewing it through the lens of a camera. That memory, as powerful as the photos might be, will remain in their minds for years. It challenges them to realize the reality and consequences of extreme poverty, gender inequality and a range of other issues that deeply affect girls in India", the Photographer says again.

"- Crafting a good character portrait requires a balance of detailed description, psychological depth and dynamic development. By integrating physical traits, personality, backstory, motivations and relationships, authors can create characters that resonate with readers and remain memorable long after the story ends. Authenticity, empathy and distinctiveness are key to ensuring that these portraits not only tell a story but also invite readers to connect on a personal level", the Photographer says again.

"- Though photographers may be compelled to witness the plight of India's girls, they can also bring a great deal of awareness to the plight of these individuals and the communities in which they live, ultimately bringing a measure of relief and comfort. It is important that people take notice and know how these girls live in order to take meaningful action and eradicate these social issues. Though it is an extremely emotional job, photographers can still provide valuable insight and be a voice for the voiceless if they take refuge in the craft of storytelling. Sending a strong message of empathy, photographers can do their job and their best to bring some change in this world", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Garments of India

Garments of India

Read also:  Garments of India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a girl in Mumbai. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.