The Gulabi Gang is an extraordinary women’s movement formed in 2006 by Sampat Pal Devi in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India.
This region is one of the poorest districts in the country and is marked by a deeply patriarchal culture, rigid caste divisions, female illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marriages and dowry demands.
The women’s group is popularly known as Gulabi or ‘Pink’ Gang because the members wear bright pink saris and wield bamboo sticks. Sampat says, “We are not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice.” The Gulabi Gang was initially intended to punish oppressive husbands, fathers and brothers, and combat domestic violence and desertion.
The members of the gang would accost male offenders and prevail upon them to see reason. The more serious offenders were publicly shamed when they refused to listen or relent. Sometimes the women resorted to their lathis if the men resorted to using of force.
Gulabi Gang strongly fights for the cause that women should have equal socio-economic, cultural and political opportunities as men.
What Necessitated The Formation Of The Gulabi Gang
One day when Sampat Pal Devi, a simple woman living in a village in Northern India, saw a man mercilessly beating his wife. She pleaded with him to stop but he abused her as well. The next day she returned with a bamboo stick and five other women and gave the rogue a sound thrashing.
The news spread like wildfire and soon women started approaching Sampat Pal Devi in droves requesting similar interventions. Many women came forward to join her team and in the year 2006, she decided that the sisterhood needed a uniform and a name and thus the pink sari was chosen, to signify the womanhood and understated strength.
The Gulabi Gang kept a watch on all community activities and protested vociferously when they saw any manifestation of injustice or malpractice. On one occasion, when Sampat Pal went to the local police station to register a complaint, a policeman abused and attacked her. She retaliated by beating him on the head with her lathi. On another occasion, she dragged a government official out of his car to show him a crumbling road that needed urgent repair. After all, what cannot be endured must be cured!
The group has empowered many women and provided all sorts of support to young females across India with an unflinching aim to protect, safeguard and defend the rights and freedoms of all women.
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