A Girl on the Rope

Culture is a universal phenomenon in terms of tribal tradition and its diversity. In the context of Dombari community, especially with the Dombari girl child, they have a deep connection with their associated culture, tradition rituals, sacraments and rites. Ample of literatures has analyzed on the aspect of existing gender inequality or gender disparity which not only exists in general society but also in various tribal societies. UNICEF studies also shows that, "To be born female and in indigenous community is not a crime but you would never know it by looking at the deplorable condition of girls in many parts of the world, beginning from the birth, girls in many parts of the world experience that apartheid of gender with her lesser claims decided at the moment her biological sex is known.”

This study is based on in-depth interview of eleven girl children who perform on the rope, natively come from Chhattisgarh but perform in different parts of Mumbai, and resides in Chhattisgarh and Mumbai.

Life on the street: Reasons for performing on the street

The reasons for the significance of cultural values are complex, and many advocacy groups have not successfully provided clear explanations for and convincing arguments in favour of prioritizing cultural values in the development processes. The study finds that, one of the main reasons of performing on rope is associated with the traditional livelihood pattern and traditional livelihood pattern of Dombari community and most importantly, only girl child performing on the rope.

Below are some of the testimonials of the Dombari community girls who performs on the rope,

“ये काम हमलोग को हमारे पूर्वजों ने सिखाया है हमारा पारंपिरक पेशा ही यही है”

(This work pattern is our traditional work pattern our ancestor used too it since very long time.)

“हमारी माँ, दादी भी ऐसे ही रिस्सयों पर चलती थी , ये हमारा पारंपिरक पेशा है , सिर्फ लड़की बच्चियां ही रस्सी पर चलती हैं

(My mother and grandmother also lived their life on rope because it’s our traditional practice, and only girl child will be performing on rope.)

Elders and parents of Dombari community have been saying that, it is a traditional pattern of their livelihood to perform on the rope. And only girl child performs on rope, because a girl child easily attracts more crowd. And families without a girl child also make up a boy child to look like a girl child and him them to perform.

The researcher also found that a family without a girl child would take another girl child from another family on the basis of monthly rent or else make up their boy child as a girl.

Childhood are not the same everywhere, and that while all societies acknowledge that children are different from adults, how they are different and what expectations are placed on them, change according to the society in which they live.

Childhood is a converting social phenomenon of persistent fascination and subject searching at it from a pass-cultural attitude suggesting the full-size form of childhood that exists across the world and warns in opposition to interfering in or criticizing human whose lives and understandings of the sector are very precise to our very personal.

All societies recognize that kids are unique to adults and feature particular and dreams; what anthropologists and different social scientists are inquisitive about is the mind that each society has approximately met the individual of adolescence and the effect those perspectives have on children’s lives.

Happiness and satisfaction

“हमसब यहाँ खुश हैं हमने बाहर की दुनिया नहीं देखी है हमलोग पूरी बिरादरी के साथ रहते हैं इसी बात से हम संतुष्ट हैं ”

When researcher asked about their happiness and satisfaction in the way of live, they live respondent replies,

we are happy with our own life we never know how other people live their life, we are so happy here with our community people, we live together this is matter no other things matter.

Childhood and struggle

The struggle gets more challenging for the girls on the street; they are conceptualized as being the wrong gender and being in the wrong place. (Skelton, 2000:8; cited from Beazley. 2002:1668). Life on the street is very uncertain, the whole day goes in work (performance on the rope), household work, taking care of the younger child,

“हमारे पास तो समय ही नहीं मिलता खेलने के लिए पूरा दिन काम करते हैं और रात को 8, 9 बजे तक वापस आके सो जाते हैं फिर सुबह जल्दी उठ के 4 बजे घर का काम करती हैं"

I don't have time for myself for fun or recreation, we always worked, I wake up early by 4 am every morning. I help my mother in the household work, go to work and come back by 8 - 9 pm daily.

Issues in daily life

Hygiene is a unique issue of health science of human being. Proper hygiene is a matter of better health for every individual. In the context of female personal hygiene, it is essential in terms of menstruation. In India, the social composition of society is unequal and based on religious beliefs of Hinduism. The base root of maintenance of hygiene is often followed by religious point of view.

In the context of Dombari community, even they are not an exception of these rituals and sacraments. Dombari girls also face challenges of maintenance of hygiene in terms of menstruation.

On the other hand, living in the world kf technology, we often avoid several kinds of rituals in everyday life because we follow democratic modernity and liberty. All the girls who are living in asud gaon are not able to use toilet facilities, they told that absence of an enclosed space makes it difficult for them to wash themselves in open area. They have poor quality of water.

“रोज नहाने का समय नहीं मिलता सोमवार के दिन सभी बच्चे अच्छे से नहाते हैं |”

Because of their way of life Dombari children are not able to follow the hygiene practice in their daily life.


“जब हमलोग रस्सी पर चलते हैं तो सब लोग देखते हैं, कभी किसी ने कुछ नहीं बोला पर भाभी और चाची लोगो को परेशानी होता है जब वो लोग बच्चों को दूध पिलाते हैं तो आदमी लोग उनको घूर घूर कर देखता है

The Girl did not specifically speak of any safety issues that they faced since they always lived with communities. Nonetheless, there was one incident that happened after one of their shows. One of the women was carrying her 2-month old son. He woke up in the middle of the performance and started crying so she sat with him at the side. Even by the end of the performance, she could not get him to stop crying so she decided to feed him. Soon as she started feeding her baby, no less than 6-7 men stood right around her, started staring at her. They did not seem to have any fear at all considering that they did not avert their gaze even when they saw that we were looking at them. The women, however, claimed to be so used to this scenario that they did not even consider it as a violation.

“हमलोगो का काम है खेल तमाशा दिखाना , रस्सी पर चलना पर पता नहीं क्यों कभी पुिलस हम बच्चों को उठा के ले जाती है और हमारा सामान भी पूरा ले जाती है ”

the above response points out that, this traditional work pattern lets them perform on the rope but some time police came and catch the children involved in the work.

The Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959 that criminalizes begging is considered to be extremely archaic. Under this Act, people from the community face exploitation and domination at the hands of the legal and police system merely for following their traditional occupations and ways of life.

"कभी कभी हम लोग खेल तमाशा दिखाते हुए रस्सी से गिर जाते हैं पर हमारा काम ही ऐसा है की मरहम पट्टी कर के दोबारा काम करना पड़ता है"

Because lack of awareness about health and safety Dombari community never goes to hospital for treatment, even if they get injured during the performance, they treat themselves. There ritual beliefs are very strong and they think it is enough for them to cure.


After the analysis of collected data, Dombari girl child shows different aspect of life such as social stigma, unequal social economic status, medical injury, issues to perform on the street and so on. During interaction with Dombari girls the researcher realized the dues put on them through this traditional pattern of livelihood by so many generations of their ancestors.

For instance,

“ये काम हमलोगों को हमारे पूवर्जों ने सिखाया है हमारा पारंपिरक पेशा ही यही है” “हमारी माँ, दादी भी ऐसे ही रिस्सयों पर चलती थी , ये हमारा पारंपिरक पेशा है , सिर्फ लड़की बच्चियां ही रस्सी पर चलती हैं

In dombari community their traditional pattern of livelihood and ignorance of mainstream life, has a great impact on their lives, because of their traditional livelihood pattern they also face social stigma. It is quite clear that a day in the life of a Dombari girl child on the street is spent in a constant struggle for food, water and space to survive. Girls are main performers on rope, and thus they do not have access to basic education. Ater some interventions they are now aware of their basic right of education and its importance for their emancipation. General acceptance and socializing seems to make the women very happy. They complained of how they could not get to know how other people in the country lived their lives because they did not have any interaction with them.

In the context of costume and living style, they always made a conscious effort to be well- dressed and well-kept. One of the woman we met seemed to be very proficient in nail art. They expressed the desire of their children to have a better life.

It was difficult for them to send the children to school, as if they do so, who will climb the rope then?” Nonetheless, the women were very scared to give this same life to their children that they had lived over these years and over generarions.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act was amended in 2016 in order to allow the employment of children below the age of 14 in family businesses and non- hazardous industries. It also allowed the participation of children in the audio-visual entertainment industry. The Dombari community, however, has not been included under the ambit of this law even though it is a family business, and also counts as participation in the audio-visual entertainment industry.

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