By News Desk. ‘“Gulabi Gang” wins Amnesty award festival in Poland.’ Dear Cinema: Films and Film Festivals. May 21, 2013.
Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain won the Amnesty Award at the 10th edition of PLANETE+ DOC FILM FESTIVAL in Poland. The festival was held between May 10-19, 2012 in Warsaw and between May 12-19 in Wroclaw.
The Jury gives away the Amnesty International Award with 3000 euros to a film that best portrays the situation of people whose rights are infringed upon, and the problems they face.
[…] Gulabi Gang won the Best Film in Muhr Asia-Africa documentary section at Dubai International film festival in 2012 and screened recently at International Documentary Film Festival, Munich and Hong Kong International Film Festival.
I think this is the documentary made about the actual Gulabi Gang (rather than the movie that’s allegedly based on the Gulabi Gang, but was made without Sampat Pal’s approval). The film seems to be doing well. I wonder if its success is helping Sampat and the Gulabis?
For the past two weeks, women’s rights advocates in Nicaragua have been watching with sorrow and frustration as the news about Savita Halappanavar has been unfolding. Savita, an Indian national living in Ireland, died of septicemia following a miscarriage—a miscarriage that was undeniable and unpreventable, and yet doctors denied her appropriate medical treatment rather than end a doomed pregnancy.
Here in Central America, women are denied life-saving treatment every day.
In Nicaragua and El Salvador, abortion is outlawed under any and all conditions—two of only four countries in the world to do so. And while the laws of other countries in the region may allow for abortion under certain, very narrow conditions, in practice very few women can receive an abortion under such “exceptions.” Women who have suffered from pregnancy complications are accused of trying to “murder” their unborn children. Women with life-threatening illnesses are denied treatment because to do so might harm their pregnancy—just the same explanation that Savita’s husband received from their doctors in Galway.
At Ipas, we saw this firsthand with a young woman called Amalia. Amalia was 27, and eight-weeks pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed with cancer—an aggressive recurrence of a cancer treated 10 years earlier. Because she was pregnant, the public health service denied her treatment because it might harm the fetus. Ipas and other human rights groups brought the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to seek a precautionary measure that would compel the state to provide treatment—a request that was quickly granted. Under public and international scrutiny, the state then provided Amalia with the gold standard of care—treatment received by few others in Nicaragua. Under this treatment, the government maintained, the fetus would survive and thrive.
Sadly, the government was proven incorrect. Amalia delivered a severely malformed baby at seven months. She lived another 17 months. Throughout the case, the government maintained that an abortion was not necessary. The result of Amalia’s case speaks for itself; women undergoing cancer treatment still need the option of therapeutic abortion.
In El Salvador we met Karina, a woman with three children who was arrested after she was found hemorrhaging as a result of an unsafe abortion. She had become pregnant after receiving a tubal ligation (a procedure that is almost, but not entirely, 100 percent effective). Her mother had told her she would not be allowed home if she became pregnant again, and she was so ashamed that she told no one. Police determined that she’d induced an abortion, and she was prosecuted and sentenced to 30 years in prison without ever being allowed to speak to a lawyer, or testify on her own behalf.
After we learned about her, Ipas, the Center for Reproductive Rights and a number of other NGOs worked with Karina to bring a review of her case. With the legal representation and fact finding that she had been denied eight years earlier, we were able to win her freedom. But other women continue to face scrutiny and harassment over their pregnancy complications: Approximately 600 women in El Salvador are under investigation or being prosecuted for suspected abortion.
Women and doctors alike live in a culture of fear in countries that outlaw abortion. Doctors are afraid to provide any medical treatment that might harm or end a pregnancy. And women who have pregnancy complications are afraid to seek treatment for fear that they will be accused of inducing an abortion. The result? Women, like Savita, who are unnecessarily injured or die.
What is more frustrating is that numerous human rights bodies have ruled that to deny abortions to women whose lives and health are endangered by their pregnancies is a violation of their human rights. Ireland was told directly by the European Court of Human Rights that they must provide mechanisms to provide abortions under the law (abortion is legal in Ireland if a woman’s life is in danger). Nicaragua has been questioned repeatedly by international human rights bodies about its total ban on abortion, which runs contrary to multiple international agreements.
How many Amalias, Karinas or Savitas must there be before nations take women’s human rights seriously?
“Review: Sampat Pal, warrior in a pink sari." Nisha Susan. Hindustan Times. November 16, 2012.
Warrior in a Pink Sari is the English translation of Pal’s memoir as told to French journalist Anne Berthold. The tight first-person narrative takes you all the way from Sampat Pal’s childhood in a live-stock rearing family in rural Uttar Pradesh to her marriage at 12, to her transformation into a 40-something powerhouse who leads a group of 20,000 pink-sari wearing women - The Gulabi Gang.
[…] She focusses [sic] on the smart ways in which the group has worked to improve the lives of women and poor rural communities: setting up small businesses, following up on government schemes, resolving village and family disputes, and deploying the eyes and ears of the gang to nab bad guys everywhere.
[…] the actions [Sampat] undertakes (including the adoption of the gang’s name and uniform, her critique of micro-credit schemes or the peace in her marriage) come out of years of strategising. What Pal thinks of the moral fibre of her husband or men as a vast lump varies from page to page in an abundance of truisms. It would have been annoying in a less gripping book. Here it remains an odd rhetorical tic.
I’m excited to get this book. But why doesn’t Sampat like micro-credit?
This review is in English. I hope this book is in English — on Amazon it has a different cover (with Sampat standing on a white background), not this bright pink cover. It has the English title, though — Warrior in a Pink Sari.
I already have another one with the white-background cover, but with the French title “Moi, Sampat Pal, chef de gang en sari rose.” It was in French (obviously), so I couldn’t read it. I assume that the English and French versions are the same story. Why did I buy a French book I couldn’t read, you ask? Because it was all I could find at the time and I am a fool for Sampat.
“Sampat Pal says Big [sic] Boss is a negative game.” Sampat Lal. India Today. November 12, 2012.
"Big Boss is an unreal world where everything is false and theatrical. Only negative things are shown in this reality show. Although it is a game, all the members play it mischievously," she has said after going out of the house.
"…I was there to communicate my message of women’s empowerment, for which I have been fighting since long. It is also true that I need money for social work but not by participating in a negative game," she said.
Wow, I might have missed the boat on that one. In guessing why Sampat Pal went on Bigg Boss I speculated that it was to grow her name recognition or to discourage Madhuri Dixit’s movie about the Gulabi Gang — I hadn’t thought about the fact that Sampat might need the money. I assumed she had gotten her footing and had enough capital to focus on growing. Hearing that the branch in Paris no longer has her approval, I wonder if she has any quality organization for fundraising. Her official website was recently improved. They are no longer set up with Paypal, but provide an email address to contact if you want to donate. The email is <email@example.com>
“Sampat Pal slams Madhuri Dixit." The Times of India. Stuti Agrawal. November 14, 2012.
Sampat Pal did an interview with The Times of India, in which she criticizes both Madhuri Dixit, the maker of an unauthorized movie based on Sampat’s life, and the group in Paris, France purporting to represent Sampat and the Gulabi Gang.
Interestingly, she says that Madhuri’s movie could have her approval if Madhuri would ask.
Your Gulabi Gang has actually inspired a movie called Gulab Gang, with Madhuri Dixit in the lead role…
We don’t want publicity. I am not happy about it because if she is doing a film on my gang, she should at least have taken permission from me. She hasn’t even bothered to meet me once. What does she (Madhuri) know about the pain women go through in real life? She can’t become Sampat Pal by just wearing a pink sari. If she uses our trademark pink sari or sticks in the movie we will stall the release of the film. But, if she comes to me and asks me politely, I shall give permission.
I had not known Sampat did not approve the Paris branch. In a different article, I read that the Parisian group had formed as a European representative of her work. I also found them representing her online and on Facebook. But here she is saying no, they did not have her permission.
Gulabi Gang also has a chapter in Paris…
Na doosra Gulabi Gang tha, na banega. Those people don’t have my permission any more and are now making money using my name. I don’t want their support.
So, unfortunately, it seems that the activism of Sampat Pal and the Gulabi Gang is solely located in Bundelkhand, for now.
The interviewer also asks about criminal charges against Sampat Pal:
Aren’t you affected by the fact that you have criminal cases pending against you?
Mujhe fark nahi padta. My integrity and courage have always seen me through. I have been to jail twice, and I don’t know how many more times I would have to go. Either I can secure my happiness or work for the society. I choose the latter.
I had not heard about that. I wonder what the charges are? If they are legitimate or a result of the corrupt law enforcement in Bundelkhand?
An explanation of why she went on Bigg Boss:
What was your motive behind joining Bigg Boss?
I didn’t know about this show until I was approached. At first I refused because I had to go to Brazil at that time. Then all my gang members suggested I should go, but some people tried to scare me saying it’s not a good place. That’s when I decided I should go and get a first-hand experience.
And finally, her upcoming plans:
What are your future plans?
I will do what I used to. I didn’t go there to search for work. Na jane kitni dukhiyari mahilayen meri raah dekh rahi hongi. Given a ticket, I will also fight elections.
I will be very happy to see Sampat Pal back to work for the Gulabi Gang.
Got a Girl Crush On: India’s Gulabi (Pink) Gang
In Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest and most feudal areas of India, there is a long history of patriarchy, abuse and corruption. Now, an aggressive and outspoken gang of women are fighting the system.
Sampat Pal is the leader of the Gulabi, or ‘Pink’, Gang. This feisty crusader is making headlines with her vigilante tactics; when she isnt attacking police, she is teaching women how to wield the ‘lathi’ - a long, wooden staff - to protect themselves against domestic violence. With over 40,000 members, the Gulabi Gang has quickly become a mass movement.
“Why do we have to take the law in our hands? I’ll tell you. The government doesn’t obey its own laws. They’re making fools of everyone. The gang are on a mission to ensure that those born into the lowest caste have an education, avoid child marriages, and earn a decent wage.”
Mahatma Gandhi famously preached non-violence. Sampat Pal says times have changed.
“I salute Gandhi. He was the father of our nation. But my style is different.”
Beware the women in pink! Ha! The Gulabi gang is putting an end to to domestic abuse and government corruption. They use a mix of violence and empowering women with economic power to make positive change in their community.
“Gulabis visit abusive husbands and beat them up with laathis (bamboo sticks) unless they stop abusing their wives. […] They have also stopped child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy.”
16 Minute Gulabi Gang Documentary.
I wish each place had a Gulabi Gang.
Quietly they’ve sat in a post I never finished. Waiting and watching. Now I think it’s time I finished the post, because Thursday was International Girl day. And boy do I have some girls to tell you about. But they’re not just girls. They’re women.
They are the Gulabi Gang.