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The title “Naari” means woman in Sanskrit. It also means sacrifice in some context. Sanskrit is an ancient Indo-Aryan language and many occasions in India including marriage rituals involve this language extensively. This photographic series criticizes section 375 of the Indian penal code that considers the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below age 15. In other words, marital rape is legal. The images portray different gestures of women’s bodies in a marriage ceremonial background. I tried to juxtapose the celebratory background with the grim subject matter. These staged photographs were mostly taken in a bedroom setting to symbolize domestic life. 

As horrible as it may sound, stories of women being raped on the wedding night are common. But, many of them simply never speak about it since they believe that it would damage her family honor. India is a country where each day close to 90 rapes are reported. The National Crime Records Bureau report of 2006 mentions that about 71% of rape crimes go unreported. Moreover, gender discrimination and sexual harassment is a ubiquitous phenomenon in Indian society. It is a place where arranged marriages are extremely common and in a number of cases the bride doesn’t even get to see her husband in person before marriage. Sex before marriage is also considered taboo. All these elements only increase the likelihood of marital rape. In such a society where the law could be the only refuge for marital rape victims, section 357 denies justice to them in a barbarous manner. 

I have used wedding symbols, like Banarasi Saree (traditional wedding outfit), “shakha” (white bangles), “alta” (red dye), “sindur” (vermilion powder), etc. I was mostly dependent on natural lighting. I have used a color palette that is dominated by red and white. Since red is considered auspicious in Indian weddings.  I hope my work transcends cultural boundaries and speaks to the viewers the way it does to me.

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