Thursday 8 March 2012

Happy International Women's Day!

On this day we salute the Gulabi Gang!

The unofficial headquarters of India's Pink Gang, the largest women's vigilante group in the world, is a small pink house in the dusty agricultural town of Badausa, about 250 miles south of the majestic Taj Mahal. This concrete, box-shaped structure belongs to Sampat Devi Pal, the self-proclaimed commander in chief of the gulabi gang, which means pink gang in Hindi, after the group's electric pink sari uniform.

The Gulabi gang was set up in 2006 after Sampat Devi Patel saw her next door neighbour being beaten by her husband. Furious, she confronted him and hit him back. She was soon joined by other women who over powered him and beat him with sticks - he never hit his wife again.

Every day, nearly half a dozen forlorn women arrive here to ask for support. Most of them have come through word of mouth, or after reading about the gang's headline-grabbing victories in the paper. They come with harrowing tales of abuse and neglect that neither the police, nor their local communities, have done anything to address.

The pink ladies have also started to attract male supporters whose female relatives have been abused. But Sampat has received death threats. 'This will not stop me. I have learned that our greatest strength is when we are united. United we are unbeatable.'

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