Gulabi Gang

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For the 2012 documentary film, see Gulabi Gang (film). For the 2014 Bollywood film, see Gulaab Gang.
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] being started by Sampat Pal Devi, as a response to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women.[2] The group has been reported to have spread and since 2010, is now active across North India.,[3] both on the streets as in (local) politics.[4]


Sampat Pal Devi, a mother of five and former government health worker (as well as a former child bride) first started the group after having beaten an abusive husband. Since then, women have joined intending to punish oppressive and abusive men and the women scolded men who abused their wives and even publicly humiliated them if they needed to do so.[5] In some cases, they even go further and threaten the abusive husbands of beating them with laathis (sticks) unless they stop abusing their wives.[1][6] This has earned them the title of "vigilantes".


The Gulabi gang is not an actual gang, but rather a team of women working towards justice for oppressed and abused women.[5] The women wear uniform pink saris that symbolize strength and carry around bamboo sticks that can be used as weapons if needed.[5] Most of the women are from a poor background and the lowest caste, the Dalit.[5]

Since 2011, the group has also become active in (local) politics. In 2011, the group participated for the first time, with 70 candidates spread over several districts. It resulted in 2 victories, namely in Sujanpur and Raoli, where respectively Hemlata Patel and Kamta Patel won.[7]

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.[5]

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.[8] Community service efforts of the gang include food and grain distribution to villagers in rural areas, pension to widows who do not have the evidence to support their age, and preventing and helping the abuse of women and children.[5] Dowry, dowry beatings, dowry death, rape, child marriages, domestic abuse, desertion, depriving one of an education, child molestation, and sexual harassment are all watched for and punishable by the gang.[5]


In June 2007, leader Sampat Pal Devi heard that government run fair-price shops were limiting the amount of grains and were not giving out food and grains to the villagers as they should.[9] She led the gang to observe the shop undercover and they collected evidence and discovered that trucks were shipping over the shop's grains to open markets.[9] With this evidence, Sampat Pal and the gang reported to local authorities and demanded that the grain be returned to the fair-price shops.[9] The local authorities did not abide to their complaints and once again another case went unreported.[9]

In 2008, they stormed an electricity office in Banda district and forced officials to turn back on the power they had cut in order to extract bribes.[10] They have also stopped child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy.[3] In 2007, a woman of the lower dalit cast was raped by a man of a higher caste and this incident went unreported.[9] The villagers and members of the lower caste protested to no avail and many of them were put into prison for doing so.[9] The Gulabi Gang took action, charged into the police station and attempted to free the villagers who were put into prison for protesting.[9] 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.[9] 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.[9]

Al Jazeera reported that the group have an estimated 400,000 members as of 2014; the Hindustan Times put the figure at 270,000.[11][12]

The Gulabi Gang earned the Kelvinator 11th GR8! Women Award, an award offered by the Indian Television Academy.[5] They also earned the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award for social bravery, offered in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Delhi.[5]

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 ahead of those of the group.[13] She was replaced temporarily by Suman Singh of Mahoba.

In popular culture[edit]

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto[14] as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.[15][16]

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, is based on Sampat Pal's life, but the director denied this, saying that he is obliged to her work but the movie is not based on her life.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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 Krishna, Geetanjali (5 June 2010). "The power of pink". Business Standard. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  4. ^ [ Gulabi gang engagement in politics]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Official Website of Sampat Pal Devi Founder of the Gulabi Gang, Gulabi Gang, Sampat Pal, 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, Women for Social Justice in Uttar Pradesh, India's Pink Vigilante, Indian Rural Areas. Vitalect. Web. 15 Oct. 2014. <>.
  6. ^ Cochrane, p. 218
  7. ^ Gulabi Gang documentary by Nishtha Jain
  8. ^ Stephens, Elijah. "Equality, Empowerment, and the Gulabi Gang." Guardian Liberty Voice. 18 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2014. <>.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Das, Sanjit. "A Flux Of Pink Indians | VICE United States." VICE. Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <>.
  10. ^ Prasad, Raekha (15 February 2008). "Banda sisters". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  11. ^ Desai, Shweta (4 March 2014). "Gulabi Gang: India’s women warriors". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  12. ^ Kumar, Rajesh (7 March 2014). "Gulabi Gang opposes chief Sampat Pal's political aspirations". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  13. ^ "Sampat Pal ousted from Gulabi Gang". The Times of India. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  14. ^ Melissa Silverstein (17 September 2010). "Trailer Alert: Pink Saris | Women & Hollywood". Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  15. ^ "Gulabi Gang". Dubai Film Fest. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  16. ^ Gulabu Gang at the Internet Movie Database
  17. ^ Singh, Renu (10 March 2013). "Will take 'Gulab Gang' makers to court: Sampat Pal". The Times of India. 
  18. ^ Chandra, Anjali (10 May 2012). "Madhuri Dixit's comeback film in trouble!". The Times of India. 
  19. ^ Parivartan Kendra


External links[edit]