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Sampat Pal Devi and members of the Pink Sari Gang

The Pink Sari Gang, or Gulabi (pink) Gang, is a group of several hundred vigilante women in India, committed to protecting women against social malpractice, corrupt administrators, and abusive husbands.

A revolutionary movement in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state’s Banda area, the Gulabi Gang is striking fear in the hearts of wrongdoers and earning the grudging respect of officials.

Leader Sampat Pal Devi, wife of an ice cream vendor, mother of five children, and a former government health worker, says, “we are not a gang in the usual sense of the term. We are a gang for justice.”

Two years after giving themselves a name and uniform, the women in the Pink Sari Gang have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor.

Shunning political parties and NGOs, because “they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us,” Sampat Pal Devi says, “Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers.”

According to 25-year-old gang member Aarti Devi, “Men used to think the law didn’t apply to them but we are forcing a huge change.”