She was buried alive for being born a girl. Rescued five hours later by her mother and her aunt, who found her still breathing, Gulabo Sapera has been a fighter and a survivor all her life. Her journey from a snake charmer’s daughter to the globally renowned Kalbelia dancer is a remarkable one.
In an exclusive video interview with Her Circle, she narrates the chilling story of the day she was born and buried alive as a result of the tradition that existed in her community of snake charmers since the beginning of time. Girls were killed right after their birth because they were considered a burden. Gulabo narrates her story of grit and courage, and how she rose from being an unwanted girl child to winning accolades and recognition around the world.
“Having won the Padma Sri for my craft gave me the courage to end the tradition of female infanticide in my community. Girls in my community today are getting education and doing well for themselves. There are trained Kalbelia dancers all around the world. We are no longer a society of traditional snake charmers,” highlighted Gulabo in the interview.
Gulabo’s message on International Day of the Girl to encourage all the girls who have been victims of similar gender biases and their parents is: “You are not weak. Look at me. I fought back. My mother believed in me and saved my life. It is always the mother who makes her daughter strong and inspires her. Every parent must understand and accept the fact that a girl child is not a burden. Let her live, do well in life, and she will make you proud.”
“Women are not in any way inferior to men. Why should a woman feel inferior to the man she has given birth to? People have tried to pull me back but I have kept moving forward. My message to all the girls is to keep moving forward. Nothing can stop us. Let’s fight this together,” she further adds.
The International Day of the Girl is celebrated every year around the world as an initiative towards an equal future and to give a voice to the girl child. Practices like female infanticide and child marriage are still prevalent in many parts of India. Her Circle condemns these practices, and together with survivors like Gulabo, is working towards providing a safe and secure environment for the girl child.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairperson of Reliance Foundation and Founder of Her Circle, Mrs Nita Mukesh Ambani, stated, “Nothing gives me greater joy than to see women rise and shine! On International Day of the Girl, my wish is to see all young girls find their rightful place under the sky. We must empower them to be the force of nature that they are born to be! I am delighted that in a short span of six months, Her Circle has created an equal and inclusive digital movement of sisterhood and solidarity. Her Circle is a space for women to connect, tell their stories, and be truly heard! Women and children, especially little girls, have always been at the heart of all our work at Reliance Foundation. Our programmes span the length and breadth of India. We work with women in the remotest corners - fuelling their dreams and enabling their success.”
Editor-in-Chief, Her Circle and Chief Content Officer, Digital & Diversity Initiatives, Reliance Foundation, Tanya Chaitanya said, “All of October, Her Circle’s editorial calendar will present stories of achievers who were less wanted or unwanted, and how they shattered all barriers/restrictions to show the world that they are not less, not more; they are equal. From dancers to athletes, corporates to showbiz personalities, these stories will compel you to join the party and celebrate the girl child.”