Picture a group of village woman, all wearing bright pink saris and wielding bamboo sticks. Sounds strange, right? But it isn’t strange, it is the Gulabi Gang. A women’s movement that was formed in 2006, led by the fiery Sampat Pal Devi. The group works in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. Banda symbolizes all that is wrong with our society; a district plagued by poverty, illiteracy, child marriage, domestic violence, child labor, dowry and a very deep rooted caste system
The Gulabi Gang is a result of women coming together to fight domestic abuse. The “gang” is a result of the Sampat Pal Devi’s intervention when she saw a man callously beating his wife. She pleaded and cried for him to stop. When he didn’t, Sampat Devi got together a few more women and gave the abusive husband a taste of his own medicine with bamboos. As more women joined forces with them the pink sari was chosen as their uniform.
While their initial intention was to work with woman who have been physically abused or deserted by their husbands, they are now even involved in the battle against the other ills of the society as well. Their approach is fairly simple – “direct action and confrontation”. They approach the offenders and try and reason with them. If the talk isn’t effective, they don’t hesitate to use their lathis.
Don’t mistake them for in your face feminists who love male bashing. They are working on very real problems at the grassroots in one of the most backward districts of the country.
As of now they have thousands of woman workers and also a healthy number of men who enthusiastically participate in their activities. They don’t want donations, they don’t want big talk. They want women to be independent and empowered and that’s what they are working towards.