Beloved Daughters is a two-part photography exhibition organized by Princeton University Art Museum that is currently showing at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. The two projects, Moksha and Ladli, by photographer and activist, Fazal Sheikh, examine the lives of dispossessed and undesirable women in certain sectors of present day Indian society.

Upon arrival to the exhibition, I quickly noticed the great photographs of the women and girls in their native dress but as I looked closer it was hard to miss the scars, both physical and emotional. As I walked around looking at each photograph I could not help but read the stories that went along with each one. The stories I read where not of love and peace but graphic hatred and violence.

The images along with the stories made for an eye-opening and thought-provoking subject about human rights that we would never hear in media today. Sheikh writes on his website, “It is one thing to photograph a group of people, it is another to try to understand them. For that you need time, and patience, and an innate respect for difference.” It is amazing to see photography of human rights issues still happening today in a world so different from ours but to hear their voices and cries is something beyond moving.

Moksha is a look at the widows in the holy city of Vrindavan, who live out their lives in devotion to Krishna (a deity worshiped across many traditions in Hinduism). Many do so only because they have been rejected by there family.

examines the enduring prejudices against girls and young women in a changing, modern India.

On Thursday, September 10, 2009, the photographer Fazal Sheikh will speak about his experiences with the women of India featured in Beloved Daughters at the Atkins Auditorium. Tickets are required for this event and can be booked here.

This thought provoking and emotional exhibition, which is something worth taking time to experience, runs through September 13th at the Nelson Atkins Bloch Building and admission is free.
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