Gulabi Gang

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Rural women in Madhya Pradesh

The Gulabi Gang (from Hindi gulabi, "pink") is a vigilante group. The group first appeared in Banda district, Uttar Pradesh,[1] as a response to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women.[2] It was previously commanded by Sampat Pal. The group consists of women between 18 and 60 years old.[3] It is reported to have spread and since 2010[4].It has been active across North India,[5] both on the streets and in local politics.[6]


The Gulabi Gang is unofficially headquartered in Badausa in Banda district, Uttar Pradesh.[3] As of 2003, the district was ranked 154th on the Planning Commission's list of 447 districts based on an index of backwardness.[7] The district has an abundant Dalit (untouchable caste) population which is subjected to discrimination by people from


Data Satbodh Sain founded the Gulabi Gang in 2006 in response to the lack of police support for victims of domestic violence.[3] Most, if not all, are members of lower castes. The gang focuses its attention on India's most impoverished region, with about half of its population facing poverty, lack of education, and other concerns.[8] The gang fights for the rights of women regardless of their caste. There are also male members, such as Jai Prakash Shivhari, who joined to stand in solidarity against issues like government corruption, child marriages, and dowry deaths.[9] Some gang members are unemployed, some are agricultural workers, and some make their living in jobs set up through self-help groups. These jobs include selling vegetables, sewing, or trading other commodities.[citation needed] Al Jazeera reported that the group have an estimated 400,000 members as of 2014; the Hindustan Times put the figure at 270,000.[10][11] On 2 March 2014, Pal was relieved of her role at the head of the Gulabi Gang amid allegations of financial impropriety and putting her personal interests before those of the group.[12]

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.[citation needed] Word of mouth and newspaper articles about the Gang's actions are its main source of advertisement. Abused women who hear about it narrate their stories to the group. The first step is to request the police to take charge. If this fails, the Gang takes over.[13]

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.[14] Members of the Gulabi Gang were increasingly being asked by men to support local activism. When 7000 Banda farmers protested in the streets to demand compensation for failed crops, the men asked the Gulabi Gang to attend.[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. The Gulabi Gang also teaches women self-defence and how to be economically self-sufficient.[16]

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

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


In June 2007, Pal heard that government-run fair-price shops not distributing food and grains to the villagers as they should. 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. Pal and the gang reported the evidence to local authorities and demanded that the grain be returned to the fair-price shops. The local authorities ignored their complaints but the reputation of the Gang was bolstered.[17]

In 2008, they stormed an electricity office in Banda district and forced officials to turn the power back on, which they had cut to extract bribes.[18] They have also stopped some child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy.[5] In 2007, a Dalit woman was raped by a man of a higher caste and the incident went unreported. The villagers and members of the lower caste protested to no avail and many of them were put into prison for doing so. The Gulabi Gang took action, charged into the police station and attempted to free the villagers who were put into prison for protesting. 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. From that time, 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.[17] Despite becoming popular for its violent approach to much of its activism, it also uses non-violent tactics such as marches and occupations.[19]

In 2011, the gang helped Sheelu Nishad, a 17-year-old girl who had been gang raped. Nishad was arrested after arriving to the police station to file a report. The rapists, which also included a member of legislature, arrived to the police station first and requested her arrest. The victim's father approached the Gulabi Gang who in turn organised two mass demonstrations in front of the police station and legislator's house.[3]

Pal has said that "Yes, we fight rapists with lathis [sticks]. If we find the culprit, we thrash him black and blue so he dare not attempt to do wrong to any girl or a woman again." Suman Singh, a later commander of the gang, mentioned that when "a woman seeks the membership of Gulabi Gang, it is because she has suffered injustice, has been oppressed and does not see any other recourse. All our women can stand up to the men and if need be seek retribution through lathis."[20]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto[21] as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.[22][23]
  • 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.[24][25]
  • In 2013, a book was published about the Gang's origins and work, called "Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India."[26]
  • The Gulabi Gang is featured in the 2017 song Des fleurs et des flammes by French singer Tal from her album Tal.[27]
  • The Gulabi Gang is featured in N.H. Senzai's novel, Ticket to India[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fontanella-Khan, Amana (19 July 2010). "Wear a Rose Sari and Carry a Big Stick: The gangs of India". Slate magazine. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  2. ^ Biswas, Soutik (26 November 2007). "India's 'pink' vigilante women". BBC News. Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Sen, Atreyee (20 December 2012). "Women's Vigilantism in India: A Case Study of the Pink Sari Gang". Mass Violence & Resistance. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Gulabi Gang: India's women warriors | India | Al Jazeera". Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  5. ^ a b Krishna, Geetanjali (5 June 2010). "The power of pink". Business Standard. Archived from the original on 23 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  6. ^ Gulabi gang engagement in politics Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Planning Commission of India. "Riders for NREGA: Challenges of backward districts" (PDF). Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
  8. ^ "In MP's Bundelkhand, Gulabi Gang is illicit alcohol traders' nightmare". Hindustan Times. 2017-04-15. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  9. ^ White, Aaronette; Rastogi, Shagun (23 July 2009). "Justice by Any Means Necessary: Vigilantism among Indian Women". Feminism & Psychology. 19 (3): 313–327. doi:10.1177/0959353509105622.
  10. ^ Desai, Shweta (4 March 2014). "Gulabi Gang: India's women warriors". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 11 May 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  11. ^ Kumar, Rajesh (7 March 2014). "Gulabi Gang opposes chief Sampat Pal's political aspirations". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2014-07-01.
  12. ^ "Sampat Pal Devi ousted from Gulabi Gang". The Times of India. 4 March 2014. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  13. ^ White, Aaronette; Rastogi, Shagun (23 July 2009). "Justice by Any Means Necessary: Vigilantism among Indian Women". Feminism & Psychology. 19 (3): 313–327. doi:10.1177/0959353509105622.
  14. ^ Stephens, Elijah (18 March 2014). "Equality, Empowerment, and the Gulabi Gang". Guardian Liberty Voice. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  15. ^ Prasad, Raekha (15 February 2008). "Banda Sisters". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  16. ^ White, Aaronette; Rastogi, Shagun (23 July 2009). "Justice by Any Means Necessary: Vigilantism among Indian Women". Feminism & Psychology. 19 (3): 313–327. doi:10.1177/0959353509105622.
  17. ^ a b Das, Sanjit (20 October 2014). "A Flux Of Pink Indians". VICE. Archived from the original on 2016-10-29.
  18. ^ Prasad, Raekha (15 February 2008). "Banda sisters". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  19. ^ Richards, Matthew (6 January 2016). "The Gulabi Gang, Violence, and the Articulation of Counterpublicity". Communication, Culture & Critique. 9 (4): 558–576. doi:10.1111/cccr.12139.
  20. ^ Desai, Shweta (March 4, 2014). "Gulabi Gang: India's Women Warriors". Aljazeera.
  21. ^ Melissa Silverstein (17 September 2010). "Trailer Alert: Pink Saris | Women & Hollywood". Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  22. ^ "Gulabi Gang". Dubai Film Fest. Archived from the original on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  23. ^ Gulabu Gang on IMDb
  24. ^ Singh, Renu (10 March 2013). "Will take 'Gulab Gang' makers to court: Sampat Pal". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013.
  25. ^ Chandra, Anjali (10 May 2012). "Madhuri Dixit's comeback film in trouble!". The Times of India.
  26. ^ Fontanella-Khan, Amana (2018-10-06). Pink sari revolution : a tale of women and power in India in SearchWorks catalog. ISBN 9780393062977. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  27. ^ "Clip "Des fleurs et des flammes" : Tal célèbre le courage des femmes du monde (màj)" (in French). Variete Francaise. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  28. ^ Senzai, N. H. (2016-11-15). Ticket to India. ISBN 9781481422598.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]