Performers at Circus Kathmandu | © CircusKathmandu/Facebook
The acrobatic agility of the performers of Circus Kathmandu is certainly amazing, but perhaps even more amazing is their backstory. Circus Kathmandu—Nepal’s first and only contemporary circus—was established in 2010 by a group of Nepali performers who had been trafficked to Indian circuses as children. They stayed there for years, training and performing in harsh conditions, before being rescued and returned to Nepal. They wanted to continue to use the skills they had learned in Nepal, but use them to their own advantage. As well as tourist shows in Kathmandu, Circus Kathmandu performs in villages around Nepal to raise awareness of human trafficking.
While both male and female performers comprise Circus Kathmandu, supporting the circus provides an extra boost for the women performers, who are often unfairly stigmatized by Nepali society because they were trafficked. The circus lets them express themselves and tell their stories. A new documentary film, Even When I Fall, focuses on two of the women performers, Saraswati and Sheetal, who are current members.