ABSTRACT

Recently, media sources have reported on a group of several hundred women in India as ‘Pink Vigilantes’ (Biswas 2007; Dhillon 2007; Prasad 2008). These women proudly call themselves the Gulabi Gang-gulabi in Hindi means pink. The gang members wear pink nylon saris for easy recognition as they publicize the plight of poor women. According to one report, the major targets of the Gulabi Gang’s “vigilante activity” are corrupt offi cials and violent, immoral husbands: ‘their activities range from beating up men who abuse their wives to shaming offi cials with whatever weapons are available including walking sticks, iron rods, axes, and even cricket bats’ (Dhillon 2007). Another report states the gang has stopped child marriages, forced police offi cers to register domestic violence casesby slapping them-and forced roads to be built ‘by dragging the offi cial responsible from his desk to the dust track in question’ (Prasad 2008: 5). No report, however, suggests they have murdered anyone. Sampat Pal Devi, who founded the Gulabi Gang, states in a news interview, ‘we are not a gang in the usual sense of the term; we are a gang for justice’ (Biswas 2007). It took her more than a decade to organize the gang, traveling from village to village singing her repertoire of protest songs. She justifi es the gang’s use of force as being necessary: ‘“To face down men in this part of the world, you have to use force,” Sampat Pal Devi says’ (Prasad 2008: 5).