Beware the pink posse

Hundreds of Indian women clad in pink saris roam the streets carrying sticks and axes.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
November 26, 2007 6:19PM (UTC)
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These gangsters don't pack Glocks, they carry sticks and axes. Instead of wearing baggy streetwear, they're draped in pink saris. They're members of India's gulabi gang, aka the pink gang, and their mission is fighting corruption by any means necessary.

The BBC reports today that several hundred women in Banda, Uttar Pradesh, belong to this 2-year-old gang. These rosy rebels are ever on the lookout for cases of child marriage and dowry deaths, as well as all manner of governmental corruption. They've beaten wife beaters, stormed the local police station and defended untouchables. Gang leader Sampat Pal Devi says, "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."


To be clear, the gang isn't anti-male -- or, as the BBC puts it, "the pink sorority is not exactly a group of male-bashing feminists" (unlike the hairy, man-hating and lesbian feminist majority). In fact, the pink posse does have a few male members. Members of the gulabi gang are generally fighting what they perceive as social injustice -- it just so happens that in poverty-stricken Banda women are frequent victims. "Village society in India is loaded against women. It refuses to educate them, marries them off too early, barters them for money," says Sampat Pal Devi, who was married at age 9.

Think what you will about vigilantism -- but I can't help thinking of one recent injustice that could benefit from some hardcore pink thuggery.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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