The Women in Green

In the wake of sexual harassment allegations in the world of entertainment, it is worth remembering that sexual assault is widespread in many communities around the world and often goes unreported. India, for example, has one of the world’s worst records in terms of sexual assault, with a recent statistic stating that Indian women are “40 times more likely to die after sexual assault than in the United States.” Considering the fact that rape is one of the most common crimes in India, it seems that the Indian government is doing the bare minimum to combat the issue, and each year the number of rape cases seems to increase. Because of this, locals (particularly local women) are bringing the issue to the surface and making a difference. Not only are these women strong and brave but they are advocating unheard women to be noticed.

The colour green symbolises growth, harmony and fertility — not to mention that the colour green also has a connotations of healing power. These words seem fitting to describe this particular group of women in the small and remote North Indian village Khushiyari in Varanasi. These women are known as ‘The Green Gang.’ They were formed when a group of women in the village demanded a change from these societal norms and wanted men in the village to respect them. Clad in green saris, the women began training themselves in self defense techniques to fight off unwanted physical attention.

This small and rural village is not the wealthiest of communities in India. While we may expect and be used to having basic household conveniences like a toilet, this village doesn’t have one at all, resulting in people having to go to the fields. Women are only allowed to go to the toilet after dusk and this has ultimately led to numerous counts of rape and sexual assault. That’s where these self defense techniques have come in handy — not only are women fighting off predators but, they are reducing the number of assaults which occur in their households. Many of the victims’ husbands had turned to alcoholism and gambling which not only affected their relationships but also their community; however, alcoholism and gambling have reduced massively ever since the formation of ‘The Green Gang’ and they continue to do so to this day.

This non-government organisation is becoming known around the world and is celebrated for their hard work and bravery. Surely the very need for a group like this signals to the government that more needs to be done at the highest levels to combat rape and sexual assault? Nonetheless, ‘The Green Gang’ will without a doubt continue to make a change to their small rural community.

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