Fontanella-Khan, Amana. Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.
Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love
Sampat Pal is a force to be reckoned with. Fontanella-Khan credits her with single handedly starting a revolutionary women’s rights organization in India’s most corrupt and crime ridden areas of Uttar-Pradesh. Pink Sari Revolution follows the story of Sheelu, a young woman accused of stealing from a corrupt legislator. Sheelu is arrested and the legislator threatens her family with murder and every number of unsavory crimes. Woven into this story are anecdotes about Sampat Pal and how she came to found the Pink Gang.
The Pink Gang works to free Sheelu and bring justice to the legislator. They use sticks to threaten police officers being bribed to cover up the crimes committed against Sheelu and her family. They use connections with local newspapers and other media to spread the story and they function with force by numbers.
Pink Sari Revolution is an in-depth study on women’s identities in India and truly offers a clear depiction of the current conditions of Uttar Pradesh. Fontanella-Khan has done admirable research by living in India, learning Hindi and spending plenty of time with the individuals who lived out this story.
The one critique I have of how Fontanella-Khan portrayed the Pink Gang was the way in which the violent crimes committed by the Pink Gang aren’t explored more critically. I understand that the oppression these women faced is like nothing I can ever fully grasp not having experienced it myself and, in some instances, violence is absolutely justified. What I saw happening a lot though, was the gang imitating the same violent and manipulative methods of making change that their oppressors have used. I wanted a better discussion about this but….writing is hard. Exploring a topic like this is difficult. For the most part, Fontanella-Khan pulled it off effectively.
This book is FOR people who: are interested in gender issues in India, who enjoy reading nonfiction, and who want to know more about corruption in India in general.
This book is NOT FOR people who: want a highly theoretical look at the Pink Gang’s methods.
3 darts out of 5