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Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in the Badlands of India [Paperback]

Amana Fontanella-Khan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

5 Aug 2013

When Sheelu was arrested for stealing from a powerful politician in the notoriously crooked region of Uttar Pradesh, she was sure that she would be forced to accept a prison sentence, not least because she had alleged that she had been assaulted by a man in the politician’s household. But then Sampat Pal heard word of the charges, and the formidable commander of the pink-sari-wearing, pink-baton-wielding, 20,000-strong ‘Pink Gang’ decided to shake things up.

Narrating the story of Sampat Pal and the Pink Gang’s fight for Sheelu, as well as for others facing injustice and oppression, journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan delivers a riveting portrait of women grabbing fate with their own hands — and winning back their lives.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (5 Aug 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1780743122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780743127
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.6 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Pink Sari Revolution often reads more like a novel than reportage. Her talent for storytelling and her detailed, sometimes poetic, descriptions of events and places, combined with helpful explanations of customs and politics, draw the reader in to create a fascinating portrait of a country in flux.'

(New Statesman)

‘Powerful… Fontanella-Khan balances descriptions of individual lives with more general insights about the struggles of women in India, and draws the reader in as the Pink Gang fights for Nishad’s freedom.’

(Financial Times)

'A joy to read and a jolt to the conscience'

(The Times)


‘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.’ Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing

‘With her usual deep reporting, humane storytelling, clarity of explanation and wry humour, Amana Fontanella-Khan brings to life a group of women who have overcome origins and odds most of us cannot 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 so-called Third World.’ Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men: And the Rise of Women

‘This beautifully rendered book is a call to women everywhere to take the world into your hands, to rise and resist.’ Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and In the Body of the World

‘Corruption was a fact of life in Uttar Pradesh, and females were too often the victims of the social, political and economic inequalities that defined this Indian “Wild West”. But as Fontanella-Khan shows in this lively account, they were not without hope, nor were they without a champion … As delightful as it is intelligent and important.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘A maze of political intrigue, personal melodrama and feminist activism unfolds in this account of the Pink Gang … Fontanella-Khan brings a novelist’s pacing to a timely page-turner that is essentially political.’ Publishers Weekly

‘An inspiring profile of an extraordinary women who breaks all stereotypes and of her cause… Timely’ Library Journal, starred review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Women fight back in India's forgotten badlands 16 Aug 2013
India's downtrodden and underclass is fertile ground for foreign journalists posted to the country. But not many go about it with the thoroughness and application of Amana Fontanella-Khan. Her well-researched book Pink Sari Revolution- A Tale of Women and Power in the Badlands of India is a highly readable study of the Gulabi Gang or pink sari vigilante group that seeks redress for marginalised women. The book is at its most compelling when it focuses on the rape of low-caste Sheelu Nishad by a high-caste politician and the subsequent search for justice. Fontanella Khan doggedly, and with the help of local journalists and a posse of translators, tries to piece together the murky details of the case, as well as tackling the role of Gulabi Gang leader Sampat Lal in seeking justice. As with the Jessica Lal murder in India, obtaining justice when powerful politicians are involved, is no easy matter, not least because of death threats and intimidation of those who cross the powerful. But it is even harder for low-caste women in the forgotten badlands of bandit-infested Bundelkhand in Northern India.
Much has been written about the all-woman Gulabi Gang, which has used beatings and intimidation as well as persuasion and civil disobedience tactics to good effect. The photogenic pink saris and Sampat Lal's undoubted charisma and public speaking talents have been the subject of many feature articles and documentary films (and is even being turned into a Bollywood movie starring top actress Madhuri Dixit)but Fontanella-Khan goes further,looking at the connected themes of violence against women, political cover-ups and police corruption.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Women 16 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having been to India and seen a glimpse of life over there I couldn't wait to read this book. She is an outstanding woman and should be President of India!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of great and courageous feminists 13 Aug 2013
By Gamaliel Isaac - Published on
This is an inspiring story about women with tremendous courage who rose against exploitation in order to defeat it. The most remarkable woman in this story is Sampat Pal a woman who rose out of poverty to become a mighty force to be reckoned with. If only we had her kind of courage in the West the world would be a much better place. It makes me wonder, "Where are the feminists in the West? Why aren't they standing with Sampat Pal? Why aren't they at least raising money for her? Why do Western feminists who have it so good exaggerate their problems while ignoring their sisters who are suffering?"
This book is well written and for the most part the author lets the story tell itself without interjecting her biases. I have been to India several times but had difficulty understanding the country and the people there. I understand the country a lot better as a result of having read this book. I recommend this book for people who want to understand India, and for those who want to read an inspiring tale about women in revolt against corruption and exploitation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You should know about this 21 Oct 2013
By Laurie Pollock - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wish it were better written, but the story and the people are fascinating. Did you know the police force of Uttar Pradesh is considered the biggest crime organization in the world? For better writing, read "Behind the Beautiful Tomorrows" but this concerns one woman and what she's doing to correct things, so it's uplifting, not depressing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sampat is a true She-roe - and those of us in the Western world can learn a great deal from her courage. 12 Jan 2014
By Trista Hendren - Published on
This critical, powerful and well-written book is so necessary now.

I leave you with Fontanella-Khan's words:

"There is no doubt that a strong Pink Gang is needed now more than ever. The challenge criminal politicians pose is a national problem.

This may be the main reason why life in India is steadily worsening for women, who suffer the most when the police and judiciary systems are corrupted. In the past four decades, the number of reported rapes has shot up by 792 percent. Conviction rates, however, are dropping. A similar story is found in domestic violence, which has climbed by 30 percent in the same time period. Across the board, crimes against women have been increasing.

The scale of the problem, which seems insurmountable, has made Sampat even more bent on social justice. She thinks she knows how it can be achieved. Drawing on the wisdom she learned when taking on powerful landlords as a mere child (and I must interject here - one of my favorite parts of the book!!) she says, "If the problem is big, we must become even bigger than it. In unity there is a lot of power."

Sampat is a true She-roe - and those of us in the Western world can learn a great deal from her courage.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A story only half told 27 Dec 2013
By slumdutches - Published on
Although this is a good read and tells a good background story of the Pink Gang, this is a baby step in any progress toward fair treatment of women in India. As with any progress in women's rights for every step forward there will be two or three backward. It was inspiring nonetheless to see women banding together to cause change.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Women on the March in India 16 Dec 2013
By Jane Upp - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very interesting story of the plight of women in India. It makes you terribly disgusted with their justice system. Also, makes you pleased that women are doing something about it. The book does get a little tedious with the same thing happening over and over; but then, that's the point.
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