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 marraiges 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 use of force.
Today, the Gulabi Gang has tens of thousands of women members, several male supporters and many successful interventions to their credit. Whether it is ensuring proper public distibution of food-grains to people below the poverty line, or disbursement of pension to elderly widows who have no birth certificate to prove their age, or preventing abuse of women and children, the Pink sisterhood is in the forefront, bringing about system changes by adopting the simplest of methods - direct action and confrontation.
Although the group’s interventions are mostly on behalf of women, they are increasingly called upon by men to challenge not only male authority over women, but all human rights abuses inflicted on the weak."