Gulabi Gang

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A member of the Gulabi Gang during a meeting

The Gulabi Gang (from Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, "pink") is a group of Indian women activists. The group first appeared in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh,[1] as a response to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women.[2] It was founded by Data Satbodh Sain [3] and was previously commanded by Sampat Pal Devi. The group consists of women between eighteen and sixty years old.[4] It is reported to have spread and since 2010[citation needed], it has been active across North India.,[5] both on the streets and in local politics.[6]


The Gulabi Gang is unofficially headquartered in the agricultural town of Badausa in the heart of Banda, an area in Uttar Pradesh.[7] As of 2003, it was number 154 on the Planning Commission’s ranking of 447 districts on index of backwardness. [8] The town has an abundant Dalit (untouchable caste) population which is subjected to discrimination by people from higher castes. Dalit women are at the bottom of both caste and gender hierarchies.[9] They form a large membership of the Gulabi Gang.



The Gang originated in 2002 when an incident sparked the idea in Sampat Pal Devi's mind. Returning home one evening, she heard rumors that a friend had been beaten by an alcoholic husband and the police had ignored the incident. She went to rescue her friend but was abused and turned away by her friend's husband. She gathered some neighbors, returned to her friend’s house, and thrashed the abusive husband in view of the community. This event triggered Devi’s aspiration to create a band of women fighters. [4]


In June 2007, leader Sampat Pal Devi heard that government-run fair-price shops were limiting the amount of grain distributed and were not giving out food and grains to the villagers as they should.[10] She led the gang to observe the shop undercover and they collected evidence and discovered that trucks were shipping the shop's grains to open markets.[10] Sampat Pal Devi and the gang reported the evidence to local authorities and demanded that the grain be returned to the fair-price shops.[10] The local authorities ignored their complaints and once again another case went unreported.[10]

In 2008, they stormed an electricity office in Banda district and forced officials to turn the power back on, which they had cut in order to extract bribes.[11] They have also stopped child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy.[5] In 2007, a woman of the lower dalit cast was raped by a man of a higher caste and the incident went unreported.[10] The villagers and members of the lower caste protested to no avail and many of them were put into prison for doing so.[10] The Gulabi Gang took action, charged into the police station and attempted to free the villagers who were put into prison for protesting.[10] They also demanded that a case be made against the rapist and when the policeman refused to make a case, they resorted to violence and physically attacked him.[10] Since this incident, the Gulabi Gang was known to use physical violence if needed to make a point and if physical violence was of no use, then they would resort to publicly shaming the offender.[10]

Al Jazeera reported that the group have an estimated 400,000 members as of 2014; the Hindustan Times put the figure at 270,000.[12][13]

The Gulabi Gang earned the Kelvinator 11th GR8! Women Award, an award offered by the Indian Television Academy.[14] They also earned the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award for social bravery, offered in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Delhi.[14]

On 2 March 2014, Sampat Pal Devi was relieved of her role at the head of the Gulabi Gang amidst allegations of financial impropriety and putting her personal interests before those of the group.[3]


The Gulabi gang is not an actual gang, but rather a team of women working towards justice for oppressed and abused women. The women wear uniform pink saris symbolizing strength, and carry around bamboo sticks that can be used as weapons if needed. Most of the women are from a poor background and are of the lowest caste, the Dalit.

Corporate partnerships of the Gulabi Gang include Vitalect, a technology and services company that works with non-profit organizations to assist them with their technological needs, and Social Solution India (SSI), a non-profit company that promotes NGO stability.

There is no discrimination based on gender because the gang not only focuses on male jurisdiction over women, but also on human rights and male oppression.[15] Community service efforts of the gang include food and grain distribution to villagers in rural areas, pension to widows who do not have the means to support themselves in their old age, and helping prevent the abuse of women and children. Dowry, dowry beatings, dowry death, rape, child marriages, domestic abuse, desertion, depriving of education, child molestation, and sexual harassment are all watched for and punished by the gang.


Most of the Gang’s cases concern domestic violence, dowry demands, and abusive in-laws. However, they also address land disputes, resolve neighborhood skirmishes, and help poor women procure socio-economic benefits, ranging from school admissions to acquiring food cards. [4] Its trust is formally called the Adivasi Mahila Utthan Gram Udyog Seva Sansthan (tribal-women’s advancement and village-development service organization). [4]

Most, if not all, are members of lower castes. However, the gang fights for the rights of women regardless of their caste. Some gang members are unemployed, some work in agriculture, either on their own land or as landless laborers, and some make their living in jobs set up through self-help groups. These jobs include selling vegetables, sewing, or trading other commodities. [16]

The Gang has several stations set up and each station has a head of a section, who handles daily activities and smaller problems on her own. She sends regular updates and reports larger problems to the leader of the Gang. [16] Members are trained in techniques of counter-aggression, such as smearing abusive men with chili powder. [4] However, they most popularly employ lathis (bamboo sticks) used by the police on patrol.

Word of mouth and newspaper articles about the Gang’s victories are its main source of advertisement. Abused women who hear about it narrate their stories to the group. According to several members, when a complaint is lodged, the Gulabis jointly agree on a plan of action. The first step is to request the police to take charge. If this fails, the Gang takes over. Their primary endeavor is to initiate peace talks, which are usually, then, followed by “shaming rituals” in which gang women demonstrate outside the homes of offenders. In the case of wife-beating, for instance, the members first speak to the abusive husband asking him to change his ways. If this fails, they ask his wife to join them in beating the husband. According to Sampat Pal Devi, the Gulabi Gang’s missions have a 100 percent success rate and they have never failed in bringing justice when it comes to domestic problems. [4]

In popular culture[edit]

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto[17] as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.[18][19]

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, was based on Sampat Pal's life, but the director denied this, saying that he admired her work but that the movie was not based on her life.[20][21]

In 2013, a book was published about the Gangs origins and work, called "Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India."[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fontanella-Khan, Amana (19 July 2010). "Wear a Rose Sari and Carry a Big Stick: The women's gangs of India". Slate magazine. Retrieved 2011-10-25. 
  2. ^ Biswas, Soutik (26 November 2007). "India's 'pink' vigilante women". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Sampat Pal Devi ousted from Gulabi Gang". The Times of India. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sen, Atreyee (20 December, 2012). "Women's Vigilantism in India: A Case Study of the Pink Sari Gang". Mass Violence & Resistance. Retrieved 3 November 2016.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ a b Krishna, Geetanjali (5 June 2010). "The power of pink". Business Standard. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  6. ^ Gulabi gang engagement in politics
  7. ^ Sen, Atreyee (20 December, 2012). "Women's Vigilantism in India: A Case Study of the Pink Sari Gang". Mass Violence & Resistance. Retrieved 3 November 2016.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Planning Commission of India. "Riders for NREGA: Challenges of backward districts" (PDF). Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. 
  9. ^ "Women's Vigilantism in India: A Case Study of the Pink Sari Gang | Sciences Po Mass Violence and Resistance - Research Network". 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2017-05-18. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Das, Sanjit. "A Flux Of Pink Indians | VICE United States." VICE. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <>.
  11. ^ Prasad, Raekha (15 February 2008). "Banda sisters". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  12. ^ Desai, Shweta (4 March 2014). "Gulabi Gang: India’s women warriors". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  13. ^ Kumar, Rajesh (7 March 2014). "Gulabi Gang opposes chief Sampat Pal's political aspirations". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  14. ^ a b "Official Website of Sampat Pal Devi Founder of the Gulabi Gang, Gulabi gang, sampat pal devi, Women for Social Justice in Uttar Pradesh, India's Pink Vigilante, Indian Rural Areas." Official Website of Sampat Pal Devi Founder of the Gulabi Gang, Gulabi Gang, Sampat Pal Devi, Women for Social Justice in Uttar Pradesh, India's Pink Vigilante, Indian Rural Areas. Vitalect. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <>./
  15. ^ Stephens, Elijah. "Equality, Empowerment, and the Gulabi Gang." Guardian Liberty Voice. 18 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2014. <>
  16. ^ a b Miller, Katy. (12 June 2013). The Gulabi Gang as a social movement: An Analysis of Strategic Choice (M.Sc. and M.A). George Mason University. 
  17. ^ Melissa Silverstein (17 September 2010). "Trailer Alert: Pink Saris | Women & Hollywood". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  18. ^ "Gulabi Gang". Dubai Film Fest. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  19. ^ Gulabu Gang on Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ Singh, Renu (10 March 2013). "Will take 'Gulab Gang' makers to court: Sampat Pal". The Times of India. 
  21. ^ Chandra, Anjali (10 May 2012). "Madhuri Dixit's comeback film in trouble!". The Times of India. 


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