This is a piece I wrote for the equality blog EqualFuture (www.equalfuture.net).
Here at GirlsCo., we value and find interest in any grassroots organization that have similar goals as we do. one in particular is the organization mentioned in this articel. Enjoy! And remember, destroy the patriarchy! Equality for all! image courtesy of google images.
Far away in the beautiful, exotic, and extremely patriarchal depths of of rural India lies a gang, but not any old gang, oh no, it’s an all female revolutionary gang for Justice. Although this may sound like the plot of a new age feminist movie (there is actually a documentary on them and it’s quite good!), this gang of women, founded by Sampat Pal Devi actually exists. It was founded in 2006 in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. These fiery women coin themselves as the Gulabi (pink in Hindi) Gang empower themselves and take up the fight of gender violence, caste oppression, female illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marriages and dowry demands. These spitfires are dressed appropriately in shockingly pink saris while wielding lathis (basically bamboo sticks to hit people with). They are hailed as folk heroines winning support from many of Banda’s arid villages. This gang was initially intended to punish oppressive men and combat domestic violence by either educating and prevail them to see reason or for the more serious offenders, publicly shame them when they refused to relent. However, throughout the years after many Robin Hood-Style operations the Gulabi Gang has evolved to encompass various types of justice. Their notable successes include high-jacking a truck with food that was meant for the poor but was being sold for profit by corrupt officials (if that isn’t badass I don’t even know what is), stopping many child marriages, and forcing police officers to register cases of domestic violence – by slapping them. Today, they have over 10,000 supporters all across India and the world and are still successfully intervening in times of need and justice bringing about radical change through direct action and confrontation to a rigid and unfair system.
I was lucky enough to come into contact with some women who had worked with the Gulabi Gang in India. Although our exchanges were brief, even in brevity I was able to see the true impact that a movement of this proportion can have. Even though the Gulabi Gang primarily focused on attacking personal and local problems, these actions sparked interest and initiative within other communities; leading to a revolution of new ideas and methods of relieving oppression. The nature of such an operation allows for tangible evidence and results but also sets the ball rolling for the eradication for deeper set issues, like the entire patriarchal system in India. These women continue to grow in number demanding justice and equality throughout the nation. A movement like Gulabi Gang goes to show that passion, drive, a lack of equality, and an electric pink sari can solve almost any problem.