Self-help in pink saris

Published on IntLawGrrls, by Berkeley Law student Mallika Kaur Sarkaria, December 8, 2007, (see also the homepage).

… The BBC reports that for the last 2 years the gulabi gang, a self-named pink gang of several hundred vigilante women, plus some men, has been striking fear in the hearts of wrongdoers and earning the grudging respect of officials in the poverty-stricken state of Banda, located in blighted region that is Bundelkhand (indicated by dark orange shading in map below) in Uttar Pradesh in the north of India.

While garbed in pink saris, they have, among other things:

  • thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives;
  • unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor;
  • stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.

The founding leader of the group is Sampat Pal Devi, whom BBC reporter Soutik Biswas describes as a wiry woman, wife of an ice cream vendor, mother of five children, and a former government health worker. She says she and her group are uninterested in politics; they shun political parties and NGOs because, she maintains, they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us. (full text).

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