Red Brigade – A women’s self-defence group that hits back at men causing trouble

red brigade india_ leader Usha in white

Red brigade with their leader Usha in white

Red brigade is a self defence group formed by women in a Lucknow slum. They make themselves loud and clear : stop abusing women or get beaten up.

Named for their bright red outfits, the Red Brigade was formed in November 2011 as a self-defence group for young women suffering sexual abuse in the Midiyav slum in the city of Lucknow.

From a core membership of 15, ranging in age from 11 to 25, they now have more than 100 members,with a simple message for the men who have made their lives a misery: they will no longer tolerate being groped and abused. Their activities are a lesson in empowerment.

Their leader, 25-year-old teacher Usha Vishwakarma,was just 18 when a fellow teacher tried to rape her. The experience left her traumatised and for two years she did nothing. But slowly her confidence came back and in 2009 she set up her own small school for local girls. However, when she saw more and more young women suffering the same abuse she had faced she decided to form a group and fight for themselves.

They bought red kameez and black salwa and began to plan the fightback.In an interview to The Guardian Vishwakarma says,

“We decided we would not just complain; we would take a lead and fight for ourselves.We chose red because it means danger and black for protest.”

“In the electronic era there are pictures everywhere of women and girls being treated like objects. It is now very simple to see pornography and it is feeding the hunger for sex. The men think that if you are looking sexy, then you want sex.”

Men who fall foul of the Red Brigade can first expect a visit and a warning. Sometimes the Red Brigade will ask the police to get involved, but if all else fails they take matters into their own hands.

They have started martial arts training so that the men do not have a physical advantage over them. Once when they were walking down a road, a man was taunting them with sexual suggestions and provocations. When his taunts became too much they all stopped and surrounded him. They grabbed his arms, lifted him in the air and hit him with their shoes and fists.

The zero-tolerance-for-abuse policy of Reg Brigade hits bang on the problem – the mentality of indecent men. It is necessary to make it clear to men that it is not OK to pass lewd remarks at a girl and it is indeed a crime to abuse women.

Read the full story published in The Guardian :


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