Indira Gandhi was the first and, to date, only female Prime Minister of India. In 1971, through the writer Mulk Raj Anand, Stafford was invited by Mrs Gandhi to do a photo essay about her to be entitled ‘A Day in the Life of Indira Gandhi’. Mrs Gandhi supported East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and its Bengali nationalist forces in their fight for independence from Pakistan. The Indo-Pakistani War was one of the world’s shortest, lasting only 13 days, and it brought the Bangladesh Liberation War, which had been raging on for nine months, to its final conclusion. By the time Stafford arrived in Delhi, Mrs Gandhi was already victorious and planning to go on tour to thank the army and wounded soldiers. Stafford spent a month with her photographing her visits to army bases and hospitals and speaking at mass rallies in Kashmir. They eventually arrived back at her Delhi home, where she photographed her family life.
In 1972, Stafford’s friend Mulk Raj Anand was concerned about the fate of some of his Bengali writer friends, and she was to accompany him on a trip to Bangladesh. She photographed the ‘founding father’ of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dhaka and took a helicopter to his village home which had been ransacked by West Pakistani fighters. Stafford was motivated to capture the destruction left by the war, but most importantly to tell the stories of those physically and emotionally scarred by it; particularly the girls and women that had been raped by Pakistani soldiers.