Barber sisters turn gender bias on its head in rural India

In India's rural areas, it is a rebellious act for a woman to work in a men’s barbershop. But to put food on the table, Neha and her elder sister Jyoti had to dress up as men and work as barbers.
Mr Dhruvnarayan Sharma with his daughters Neha (left) and Jyoti (right) outside their house in Banwari Tola. A neurological disorder reduced mobility on 60-year-old Mr Sharma's right side, making him incapable of working at the modest barbershop he o
Neha giving a customer a shave at the barbershop. She mans the shop every day after she returns from school in the afternoon.ST PHOTO: DEBARSHI DASGUPTA
Mr Dhruvnarayan Sharma with his daughters Neha (left) and Jyoti (right) outside their house in Banwari Tola. A neurological disorder reduced mobility on 60-year-old Mr Sharma's right side, making him incapable of working at the modest barbershop he o
Mr Dhruvnarayan Sharma with his daughters Neha (left) and Jyoti (right) outside their house in Banwari Tola. A neurological disorder reduced mobility on 60-year-old Mr Sharma's right side, making him incapable of working at the modest barbershop he owns. Neha and Jyoti had little choice but to step in to keep the shop going. ST PHOTO: DEBARSHI DASGUPTA

Duo seen as heroes for going against the norm and taking on a role reserved for men

As a mother of four daughters, Mrs Lilawati Devi Sharma wished for a son.

One was born but died soon after birth. She and her husband, Mr Dhruvnarayan Sharma, tried again.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 10, 2019, with the headline 'Barber sisters turn gender bias on its head in rural India'. Print Edition | Subscribe