Monday, November 26, 2007

India's Pink Gang

When I was very young, I sometimes wondered why a slight difference in height and strength translated into a huge disparity in political and social power for men and women. After all, I reasoned, if there were as many (or more) women as men, couldn’t women just gang-up on any bad-acting men? As I grew up, though, I simply learned to accept that strength differences have accounted for the predominance of all forms of disempowerment for women across cultures, and I came to believe that any gains we make must necessarily be earned through the political process.

Some women in India, however, have not been so quick to abandon physical force as a means of effecting change and are, in fact, ganging up on bad actors. They call themselves the "gulabi gang" (pink gang), and according to the BBC:
Two years after they gave themselves a name and an attire, the pink women have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of food grains for the poor.

They have also stormed a police station and thrashed a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.

"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," says Sampat Pal Devi, between teaching a "gang" member on how to use a lathi (traditional Indian stick) in self defence.
While I would not usually come out in favor of vigilantism, I must admit that I was moved by the plight of these women, and by the courage they have shown in defending one another.

UPDATE: One line from the BBC article, "
The pink sorority is not exactly a group of male-bashing feminists," has irked Samhita from Feministing. "Why are women that work for the rights of other women labeled as potentially male bashing?" Yeah, that is a stupid take on feminism. Yet, the irony here, is that the while these women may not qualify as feminists in the eyes of the BBC, they are bashing men from time to time- with clubs.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I like the "hands on" approach to upholding social justice! However, in India, the differences btwn men and women are not size only. It is also numbers. There are millions of women "missing" due to infanticide and abortion of girls.

Anonymous said...

-Widespread concern over India's missing girls.

The Lancet, Volume 362, Issue 9395, Pages 1553-1553