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Red Brigade - India's female vigilantes against sexual violence
Female vigilantes in India join forces to fight rape

in INDIA, 04/08/2013

In a country where a woman is raped every 20 minutes, the group's extreme measures have won quiet approval from some. Eight young women dressed in red tunics and black scarves make their way along a narrow lane in Lucknow's Madiyav slum in northern India as young men move quickly out of their way, avoiding their eyes.

The girls reach a house at the corner of the lane: Two go in and emerge with a young man. Preeti Verma, 17, has a hand around his neck and pushes him toward the girls who then pummel him with slippers and their fists. No onlookers intervene.

"He had been stalking one of the girls in Madiyav," said 25-year-old Usha Vishvakarma, leader of this band of vigilantes who call themselves the Red Brigade. "We warned him twice, even complained to his parents, but he did not stop."

What started in 2011 as a small support group for women subjected to sexual harassment and worse has grown in numbers and status after the gang rape and murder in December last year of 23-year-old student Jyoti Singh in New Delhi, Vishvakarma says.

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