In Uttar Pradesh - known as the "badlands" of India - a woman's life is not entirely her own. This is one explanation for how Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old girl, ended up in jail after fleeing her service in the home of a powerful local legislator. In a region plagued by corruption, an incident like this might have gone unnoticed - except that it captured the attention of Sampat Pal, leader of India's infamous Gulabi (Pink) Gang.
Poor and illiterate, married off around the age of twelve, pregnant with her first child at fifteen, and prohibited from attending school, Sampat Pal has risen to become the courageous commander and chief of a women's brigade numbering in the tens of thousands. Uniformed in pink saris and carrying pink batons, they aim to intervene wherever other women are victims of abuse or injustice. Joined in her struggle by Babuji, a sensitive man whose intellectualism complements her innate sense of justice, and by a host of passionate field commanders, Sampat Pal has confronted policemen and gangsters, officiated love marriages, and empowered women to become financially independent.
In a country where women's rights struggle to keep up with rapid modernization, the story of Sampat Pal and her Pink Gang illuminates the thrilling possibilities of female grassroots activism.
The women of the state are generally penniless, and consequently have little legal recourse. If they are raped or beaten, often the male involved merely pays a bribe to have the case dismissed. Sampat Pal Devi and her group of women look for cases such as these and seek redress, often using unconventional methods. Sheer force of numbers is often enough to intimidate law enforcement into doing the right thing. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Fontanella-Khan brings a novelist's pacing to a timely page-turner that is essentially political; party politics, political corruption, and the wretched treatment of rape victims are her true subjects.
As delightful as it is intelligent and important.
An inspiring profile of an extraordinary woman who breaks all stereotypes and of her cause. Dealing with a timely topic, this title is highly recommended for all applicable collections.
Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women
With her usual deep reporting, humane storytelling, clarity of explanation, and wry humor, Fontanella-Khan brings to life a group of women who have overcome origins and odds most of us can not even imagine to create a movement that might very well change India - and the West's image of what it means to be a woman in the Third World.
Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars
A powerful, engrossing portrait of one woman's fight for female empowerment in India. Sampat Pal's extraordinary courage will inspire you, delight you, and fill you with hope.
Throughout Pink Sari Revolution, the stick carried by the Gulabi Gang is referred to as a pink-painted "baton." More accurately it is a lathi stick – a traditional Indian weapon, made of bamboo, with a long history of martial use.
Lathi (pronounced LAH-tee) literally means "bamboo stick" in Hindi. It is widely considered to be one of the oldest weapons in the world, and its use can be traced to aboriginal times throughout what is now eastern India and Bangladesh. Made from the male bamboo, it is usually six to eight feet long and is sometimes bound at intervals with iron rings or tipped with a metal blunt. It is an inexpensive, readily available weapon that is extremely effective at close range, operated by swinging like a bat or twirling and thrusting. The Times of India says, "When...
From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century's great, unequal cities.
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