This Dalit lawyer wants to educate and empower women
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For someone born with both social and physiological disabilities, this lawyer-turned-social activist has come out with flying colours.
IT was a normal sunny day for Sunita (name changed), a seven-year-old Dalit girl, two years ago.
As a labourer, it was her job to sprinkle water on the cricket ground.
On that day too, she went to get water and while crossing the pitch accidentally spilled water on it. The upper class boys who were playing got so enraged that they beat her black and blue.
In normal circumstances, being young, a Dalit and a girl the matter would have been hushed up, but for Gauri Kumari, a feisty lawyer and then a member of District Juvenile Board.
She took up the case, fought it all the way up to the High Court and ensured that the boys who dared to hit the kid were sent to jail.
This is just one of the many battles this young lawyer activist has fought and won.
Gauri says, "That day I felt that I have really achieved something".
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Image: Gauri Kumari
Photographs: Rohit Gautam/Careers360
The family was doomed to severe financial constraints
Gauri belongs to the lowest rung of India's caste hierarchy.
She hails from Munger district in Bihar, which is among the most backward areas in the country.
A victim of polio from a tender age, she has four siblings.
"My father used to work as safai karamchari (sweeper) but my mother wanted me to study.
Economic condition of the family was not good. In life the most challenging movement came when I lost my mother and father lost his job.
The family was doomed to severe financial constraints. But I was determined to study hard to change my life.
I completed my graduation with the support of government scholarship."
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'I had to face multiple layers of discrimination'
Eventually Gauri became a lawyer and started working for the rights of Dalits and women, inspired by Savitri Baiphule, a renowned social reformer.
A confident and enthusiastic Gauri went on to contest the local election in the district and for five years held the post of Member of Ward Council in Munger.
Later, she was nominated as the first Dalit woman lawyer in Bihar to hold the position of the member of the Juvenile Justice Board.
About her experience at Juvenile Justice Board she says, "In Board most of the members were from upper caste and I had to face multiple layers of discrimination -- being a woman, an untouchable and differently-abled."
'I decided to work as a social activist to educate and empower women'
Her experience in politics was not so pleasant, says Gauri.
"I wanted to be in mainstream politics after winning local municipal election as an independent contestant but could not find a proper platform where I could serve people and work honestly. Then I decided to work as a social activist to educate and empower women."
Today she is a very active, enthusiastic young lawyer and activist and is a coordinator with National Campaign of Dalit and Human Rights in Bihar.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh