While living in India, I learnt about so many injustices that woman face daily. It's astonishing how many women are raped and beaten and nothing is done about it. Did you know that there is a whole genre of television dedicated to the often abusive relationship between mothers and daughters in law? The new daughters in the family are treated like domestic staff. There is even a "mother-in-law" wing in some of the female prisons in India. The Economist recently published an article entitled 'The Curse of the Mummyji' which explores this theme in more detail.
In light of this, we chose Sampat Pal Devi to be our inspiration this week. She is an incredibly brave woman who has taken charge of the battered women in Uttar Pradesh, a state with the highest crime rate in India. Sampat was a child bride and married off to a man much older than her. With her strong personality and determination, she managed to overcome the demands of her mother in law and moved out of their house with her husband (which is unheard of and very much looked down upon in rural areas).
Sampat's group began when women she knew were being mistreated and she was the only one willing to stand up to the men responsible. She realised the only way to be heard was in a mob of angry women so she created the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang). Upon joining the gang, the woman are given a pink sari and a lathi (bamboo stick) which they use to shame these abusive men. The gang now has tens of thousands of female members and even some male supporters.
The Gulabi Gang has now expanded their work - they not only handle abusive family members but also work to rectify social injustices within their towns and often protest against local authorities. In the book 'Pink Sari Revolution' by Amana Fontanella-Khan you learn more about how and why Sampat started the Gulabi Gang and how she rescued a young girl who was raped, beaten, and forced to elope and then thrown into jail under false charges by the legislator of Uttar Pradesh.
Shaleena & Roshni
What we’re listening to: ‘I Care 4 U’ Aaliyah