Title: Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India
Author: Amana Fontanella-Khan
Release Date: August 5, 2013
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Cultural
Rating: 4 out of 5
Set in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, considered one of the most corrupt areas in the world by many, Amana Fontanella-Khan tells the story of Sampat, an uneducated woman who should have faded into obscurity like all the other undervalued, mistreated women in the state, but instead rose to form the Pink Sari Gang, to fight for the downtrodden and make a difference.
Pink Sari Revolution is an interesting non-fiction read about a strong woman who is making a difference in India. It can be a little dry at times, but it’s certainly a book worth reading if you’re interested in cultural stories and politics.
Pink Sari Revolution: A Tale of Women and Power in India follows the story of Sampat Pal, told through the prism of a crime committed against a young woman. In Uttar Pradesh, as Fontanella-Khan tells us, women and daughters simply aren’t valued; rape is a normal occurrence, as are dowry burnings and other horror stories of violence against women. One such woman is Sheelu, a seventeen-year-old who was working in the home of a rich man. She was arrested for theft, but Sampat believes that there is more to Sheelu’s case than either the police or the accuser are saying. Through Sheelu’s predicament, the reader gets a close look at what it is Sampat does and how exactly she’s made a difference in so many lives.
Sampat Pal certainly is an unlikely hero as portrayed in Pink Sari Revolution. Uneducated and married at the age of 12, Sampat’s story is similar to many other women in Uttar Pradesh. But somehow, through her passion and persuasiveness, Sampat has convinced thousands of women to join her Pink Gang, to fight for justice, whatever the price may be. It’s inspiring, and yet, Fontanella-Khan does not portray either the movement or Sampat as perfect. They use violence to achieve their means sometimes, and Sampat can come across as arrogant, but none of this changes the fact that what they’ve accomplished is simply astonishing.
If you like non-fiction and cultural stories, then Pink Sari Revolution is definitely a good choice. The tale can become dry at times, but overall, the suspense of what will happen to Sheelu combined with the sheer uniqueness of Sampat’s story make for an engaging read. The movement has come so far, and yet Fontanella-Khan makes it clear that there are so many more battles to fight and so much more to achieve. Yet with Sampat Pal at the helm, the reader doesn’t doubt that every battle possible will be fought and won, improving conditions in Uttar Pradesh for anyone who doesn’t have a voice of their own.