By Enrico BISI


Documentary - Completed 2010

She is Indian, illiterate, poor and believes in justice.
She has brought together hundreds of women in pink saris armed with sticks.
This is the incredible story of Sampat Devi Pal and her “Pink gang”.

    • Year of production
    • 2010
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Duration
    • 72 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Enrico BISI
    • Producer(s)
    • Alessandro BORRELLI (La Sarraz), Flavia OERTWIG (Tama Film Produktion)
    • Synopsis
    • The documentary tells the story of the “Pink Gang”, Gulabi Gang in the hindi language and more specifically of Sampat Pal Devi, their aging founder and undisputed leader, a woman of around fifty, totally unschooled, who lives in a tin shack.
      The Gulabi Gang was first born in 1990, but only in 2006 it’s leader Sampat Devi actually gave it a name and a precise identity.
      The gang operates in one of the poorest areas of India, just south of Delhi, the Banda District, on the border between Uttar and Madhya Pradesh.
      What distinguishes this gang is that it is made up entirely of women, all dressed in pink saris and wielding a lathi, a wooden stick. The gang fights for justice, as Sampat tends to reiterate, through specific actions that aim to establish the rights of women. At first the actions did not appear to be organised, but rather a series of sporadic and somewhat ineffectual forms of individual protest. The oral traditional, a fundamental element of Indian history and culture, has helped the fame of these actions to spread, and convinced an increasing number of women to join Sampat Devi’s gang. Many of the over four hundred women gang members are married and the decision to join the team has always been shared by their husbands.
      The condition of women in these areas, especially if they belong to the “wrong” caste, is often unbearable.
      The Gulabi Gang defends villages from all injustice, perpetrated primarily by criminals:
      the inhabitants of this area, like many others on the Indian continent, are often at the mercy of fierce bandits, who steal the few things they find and occasionally abuse women.
      Until the gang was set up, all violence suffered by women, once reported, wasn’t even included in police reports. It didn’t matter who had actually inflicted the abuse, whether it was the husband, the brother or a common criminal: this meant that according to official records no criminal offences were being committed against women.
      One of the most important and effective actions undertaken by the Gulabi Gang was the attack on a police precinct to ensure that the abuse suffered by women was duly written up in the records. The often corrupt policemen were immobilised, beaten and threatened until they owned up to the crimes they had committed. The same treatment has also been lavished on land owners or entrepreneurs who are believed to have exploited women, or corrupt and violent officials.
      Sampat has told us that they want to improve everyone’s way of living, not just women’s. The men who don’t work, who spend their time drinking or gambling to forget their anguish, feel lost. She believes that there are plenty of opportunities to build wells and improve soil fertility and thus improve living conditions and job opportunities. And in the meantime she gets together with the other women in pink to teach young women to cook, to embroider and to come to grips with their condition.