Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers. ~ Sampat Pal Devi
Ordinary people are making a change: Sampat Pal Devi, a mother from Uttar Pradesh, has kicked off a movement for women in India.
In 2006 Devi tried to intervene and stop a man from beating his wife in public. There was no reprimand for him and so she returned to the scene the next day, with five more women – brandishing bamboo sticks. They had come to find the man and teach him a lesson.
Word spread around the village of Devi’s lead and women came to her, eager to join in future quests. The Gulabi Gang was born. The troop is now over 40,000 members strong; wear a uniform, carry sticks and have since sparked similar movements around the country.
It’s a bold battle in a deeply patriarchal culture which is rife with caste divisions, (female) illiteracy, domestic violence, child labour, child marriages, dowry demands and high rape statistics. The group have even visited police stations to battle with officers who refuse to register complaints of abuse against women.
Devi’s work has unearthed corruption and given a voice to both men and women who are all against abuse. In a system where women aren’t educated, Devi taught herself basic literacy skills as a child and now teaches her group members.
The Gulabi Gang have many missions and one of those is to ensure that people born under the lowest caste have an education, avoid child marriages and earn a decent wage.
If reasoning with abusers and corrupt officials doesn’t work, it is Sampat Pal Devi’s style to then shame them publicly and beat them.
Sampat – Keep on fighting – we are all with you!
To donate funds to the Gulabi Gang, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details
Full Name, Contact Address, Phone Number and Email Address.
Last year a documentary celebrated their journey: IMDB Gulabi Gang (2012) but you can listen to Devi’s words and see the amazing woman in action in many news reports on Youtube. This is one of my favourites:
- Meet India’s Gulabi Gang, Female Activists for Change (trueactivist.com)
- The “Pink”Gang. A successful women’s movement. (happytelegram.wordpress.com)
- Gulabi Gang(2012) (documentarybibliography.wordpress.com)