Gulabi Gang Violence. What happens when women wield the stick and confront real-life villains in a society where rapes are more common?It’s a rare but powerful storey of female strength that deserves to be captured on film in a film-crazed country.
It’s no surprise that an all-women vigilante organisation from central India’s badlands is gaining attention for the same reasons. The Gulabi Gang, often known as the Pink Gang, has recently inspired two films: a documentary and a full-length feature film that has sparked widespread interest.
Devi’s idea of providing alternative justice sparked a movement that today includes 400,000 women — all clad in pink sarees and holding a stick – spread throughout 11 districts of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest province.
Aims and Goals
The Gulabi Gang’s aim to ‘defend the helpless from abuse and fight corruption has found easy resonance across most of India’s hinterland, devastated by incessant allegations of sex crimes and gang rapes. “When a woman joins Gulabi Gang, it is because she has been wronged, oppressed, and has no other option,” says Suman Singh, the group’s deputy commander from Mahoba district. “All of our women are capable of standing up to men and, if necessary, seeking punishment through lathis,” she adds. Bundelkhand is one of India’s poorest states, with over 40% of the people living in poverty, caught in a never-ending cycle of suffering, drought, and ignorance.
Threats faced by Indian Women on a daily basis
Last year, 1,963 incidences of rape, 7,910 cases of kidnapping, and 2,244 cases of dowry death were reported in Uttar Pradesh, making it one of the most dangerous provinces for women in the country. Devi and her vigilante group’s work was cut out for them against this backdrop. The gang’s identity is defined by the sticks. When they become aware of a crime, corruption, or malpractice, they engage in talks, protests, and hunger strikes to demand remedy. Their sticks, on the other hand, come in handy when nothing else does.