I had a military history professor once spend the better part of a lecture explain to us that a sovereign nation is defined by the control of force within its territory. But what happens when a nation does not or will not regulate the use of coercive force within its borders? What if it allows certain individuals to physically abuse or use their positions of authority to take advantages of others?
Well, if you are a woman in rural India, you might join the Pink Sari Gang.
Slate has a fascinating story about gulabis — gangs of women in rural India who wear pink saris seeking justice for abused wives. 40-year old Sampat Pal Devi started the movement with a few friends in 2006. They began by visiting a few husbands who refused to stop beating their wives, intimidating them into changing their minds by brandishing bamboo sticks. The movement now has more than 200,000 members; Pal travels from village to village on a bicycle to keep the momentum going. – Lisa Katayama at Boing Boing
Far from supporting widespread vigilantism, I do find it difficult to deny people the right to band together to defend their human dignity when that responsibility is abdicated by the authorities.
It will be interesting to see how this increasingly powerful organization develops as the transition from a provider of social justice to a group ignored by “legitimate” authorities to a group that uses their capacity for organized violence to coerce others is a line that has occurred frequently in history.
Whether the Pink Sari Gang follows the example of the incorruptible Batman or kingpin Vito Corleone, I’m eagerly awaiting the Pink Sari gangster movie directed by Quentin Tarantino.
*For you heathens, the title is a reference to the female gang/clique from Grease.