Gang for Justice

gulabi gang plaid zebra

While I sit here writing this post, there is a gang of over 30,000 women in Northern India, wearing pink saris, brandishing bamboo sticks (lathis), fighting for women’s rights and justice. They are called the Gulabi Gang and their leader Sampat Pal Devi, is a formidable force. They were born out of one of the poorest rural areas where women are discriminated against on the account of being female and poor. In an area where child-marriages, dowries, and domestic violence rule the social construct, Sampat is tearing down these harmful traditions by means of persuasion, education, and sometimes force. If a man beats his wife and Sampat hears about it, she and her gang of woman warriors will travel to that man’s house with their bamboo sticks at the ready.

The treatment of women before the start of Sampat’s Gulabi Gang was appalling, with accounts of girls being burned, beaten, or sold as children wives. Sampat is now a feared leader, her reputation and her strong debating skills swaying those who oppose her to the side of reason. The birth of this gang began rather unexpectedly. Sampat witnessed a man beating his wife, she pleaded with him to stop but he beat her, as well. The next day, she returned with five other women and beat the man with bamboo sticks. This story spread. Women began coming to her, asking for her help. Soon she had a following of thousands. They proudly march through their villages in pink saris, fighting corruption and abuse. They consider themselves a ‘gang for justice.’

It just took one woman to stand up and declare that she had enough! So what will it take before we also stand up and declare that we have had enough? When will we wield our own proverbial lathis and become a ‘gang for justice’? I’m not suggesting we literally beat our abusers into submission. Although, to be honest, I have fantasized about that on occasion. But I am suggesting we take on a more aggressive approach. We must systematically work on eradicating violence and emotional abuse.

We march through the city in our ‘pink saris’ with our ‘lathis’ and we let the world know that this is no longer okay.

Our children are being indoctrinated with the toxins of manipulation and violence, stemming from a lack of education. We grow up in abusive environments, thinking it is normal. We repeat that behavior in front of our children, then they repeat that behavior to their children, and so the cycle continues, until it is part of our genetic makeup. I know this sounds radical, but bear with me. According to Safe Horizon, “more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year” and “without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation. Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults.”

How do we combat this sensitive and highly erosive problem? We speak out against it. We march through the city in our ‘pink saris’ with our ‘lathis’ and we let the world know that this is no longer okay, this is no longer normal. We let others know that there is help out there, warriors of our own that run safe houses for victims and programs that help build economic independence. We make sure our children know what a healthy relationship is. We make sure our children can witness a healthy marriage or union. Domestic violence should no longer be a hushed topic that is tucked away or snuffed out. All of its dirty little secrets should be brought to light, so the ugly truth is there for all to see.

It only takes one person to start a movement. Will you be the next Sampat Pal Devi? Will you speak out against abuse? Help us and our communities by refusing to give in to the oppression of abuse and the toll it takes on all of us. This is not an isolated issue. Abuse affects us all. It affects our schools, our children, our community, our work, and our future as a society. It is time we took a stand. Help us fight for justice!

How can you help? Share your own stories with friends and family, you never know who needs to hear. Share our blog to help spread the word. Leave a comment if you have your own experience or story to tell, you may help at least one person realize they are not alone.

*image pulled from Plaid Zebra

~Lindsey V.

7 thoughts on “Gang for Justice

  1. That was an incredible article Lindsey which could sit effortlessly and contentedly on the front page of many a newspaper and magazine. The photo alone is greatly touching, let alone the deeper story behind the image’s narrative.

    I feel so pleased for you with this post on many levels, as it clearly and concisely demonstrates your fine writing skills. You articulate it all so well by exploring many sides of a well-structured argument … namely the refusal of women to put up with or tolerate wide-spread ‘domestic abuse’ … I found myself nodding throughout and cheering these women on.

    I agree with you whole-heartedly … that by sharing stories we refuse to buy into the silence that keeps the abuse of women and children ongoing today, throughout the world. Yes, tell others, whether they are in your family circle or outside of it … spread the word, break the silence and power of these hushed up customs and traditions.

    In history (not her-story) they say it just takes just one man to start a revolution yet I reckon with us women it takes one woman in every town and village all over this planet to do this … yes, in every single town let a woman come forward and say, ‘No!’

    I wear my ‘White ribbon’ here in England with pride … and recognise that I too am ‘a woman working to end violence against women’ thank goodness there are many men working towards this goal too. I genuinely doff my cap to you, great blogpost … Amen, sister! Blessings, Deborah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah, your comments are so incredibly encouraging. Thank you for taking the time to read our amateur blog. I feel so wholly inadequate sometimes as a writer, but as long as the message is conveyed effectively I am happy. I know you are a warrior for justice and I couldn’t be more relieved in realizing how many warriors there really are around the globe. Thank you a thousand times over for your support and wonderful comments. We are truly blessed to have such a friend on here. 🙂 All the best–Lindsey V.

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