Saturday, December 8, 2007

Self-help in pink saris

We've posted before about Gorilla Grrls, also known as Guerrilla Girls, "anonymous females who take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms and appear in public wearing gorilla masks," and have, in their own pink way, worked since 1985 to "expose sexism and racism in politics, the art world, film and the culture at large." Now comes word of a militant group operating on the other side of the globe from the New York City birthplace of those other Grrls.
The BBC reports that for the last 2 years the "'gulabi gang,'" a self-named "pink gang" of "several hundred vigilante women," plus some men, has been "striking fear in the hearts of wrongdoers and earning the grudging respect of officials" in the poverty-stricken state of Banda, located in "blighted region that is Bundelkhand" (indicated by dark orange shading in map below) in Uttar Pradesh in the north of India.
While garbed in pink saris, they have, among other things:
►"thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives"
►"unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor"
► "stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case"
The founding leader of the group is Sampat Pal Devi, whom BBC reporter Soutik Biswas describes as "a wiry woman, wife of an ice cream vendor, mother of five children, and a former government health worker." She says she and her group are uninterested in politics; they "shun political parties and NGOs because," she maintains, "'they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us.'"

(thanks to Berkeley Law student Mallika Kaur Sarkaria for the head's up)

1 comment:

Diane Marie Amann said...

Coincidentally, my colleague Jack Ayer's been posting impressions on India, based on his recent trip there, at his own blog, http://underbelly-buce.blogspot.com/.