Wearing pink saris and wielding bamboo sticks, this is the Gulabi Gang - the feminist face of India.

Set up in 2006, the gang came into being as an independent force of justice with the aim of "punishing" oppressive and violent fathers, husbands and brothers.

It was formed by Sampat Pal Devi, in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India, and now with a membership numbering in the tens of thousands, the group finds itself performing "interventions" on behalf of men too.

gulabi gang

Gulabi Gang members wear pink saris, wield bamboo sticks and are a force for justice

Its website pledges to challenge "all human rights abuses inflicted on the weak."

Following the death of a 23-year-old gang rape victim last week, women's rights have shot to the top of India's social agenda, and the Gulabi Gang has demanded justice.

Devi told The Times of India: "The rapists should not be hanged as it would not serve any purpose, instead they should be chemically castrated. The line, 'I am a rapist', should also be permanently etched on their foreheads.

"This is the lesson which should be taught to the Delhi rapists and many others will never dare to approach a girl with bad intention."

Five of the accused have been charged with rape and murder, while a sixth suspect who claims to be under 18, is expected to be tried in a juvenile court separately, The Associated Press reports. Under Indian law juveniles cannot be prosecuted for murder.

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A police report seen by the Hindustan Times states the youngest suspect "extracted her intestine with his bare hands and suggested she be thrown off the moving vehicle devoid of her clothes."

The Indian media reports the police are pushing for the death penalty, yet the Gulabi gang is opposed to capital punishment.

Devi believes the death penalty "worsens the scenario instead of mitigating the problem" and believes illiteracy is the reason for the growing incidents of rape.

She explained: "A significant chunk of the women in Bundelkhand is illiterate, and hence lacks the confidence to be self-reliant. These traits of the women provide advantage to men who try to exploit them."

The Gulabi Gang have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor, the BBC reports.

They have also stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.

Devi adds: "There are so many struggles that women here have to go through, it never seems to stop.

"We don't like using violence, but sometimes that's the only way people listen."

During the rape which came to galvanise the nation, the victim was attacked by six men on a bus. A metal rod was inserted in her body as the bus drove around for 40 minutes. The sustained attack resulted in the removal of almost all of her intestines.

The victim and a male friend, who was also attacked, were thrown from the bus while it was still moving. Police in Delhi said the bus then tried to mow them down.

sampat pal devi gulabi gang

Sampat Pal Devi founded the Gulabi Gang in 2006

The unidentified woman died after suffering multiple organ failure and a heart attack.

In the days following her death, British Indians including professionals from the medical, business and legal sector have written a letter to the UK Indian ambassador Dr Bhagwati and the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, calling for urgent action to ensure the protection of women in India against sexual violence.

Amid a renewed campaign to tackle the widespread and often unreported incidences of violence against women, the government has been forced into action. More police night patrols have been set up, buses with tinted windows or curtains have been banned and drivers of public transport are now subject to more checks, reported the BBC.

A telephone helpline has also been set up.

However social activists insist not enough is being done to tackle India's rape culture.

New Delhi has emerged as the 'rape capital' of India, with 25% of cases across the whole of India occurring in the capital, according to an Al Jazeera report.

A woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours, according to figures quoted by the BBC.

Despite this, official figures show that there was only one conviction for rape in the whole of 2012. On 26 December, a 17-year old girl who had been gang-raped in Delhi was found dead, a note by her body blaming her attackers.

It had taken over two weeks for her case to even be registered, amid allegations that officers had pressured her to withdraw her case and marry her attacker.

On a positive note however, since the attack took place on December 16, there has been a surge in female interest in self-defence classes in India, and shopkeepers have reported a spike in the sales of pepper spray and rape alarms, AFP reports.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women’s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang’s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Leader of the Gulabi Gang, Sampat Pal De

    Leader of the Gulabi Gang, Sampat Pal Devi (C) gestures as she chats with members during a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of

    Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the 'Gulabi gang' poses upon her arrival to attend the 4th edition of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society 'Building the future with women's vision' on October 17, 2008 in Deauville. AFP PHOTO MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) t

    Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang) take part in a joint protest for better implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in New Delhi on September 17, 2009. The Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), a group of women in rural India who strive for social justice, don pink saris and fight for women�s rights, against corruption, and for the poor. Leader Sampat Devi began the vigilante group in 2006, and chose the color pink for her gang�s uniform because most other colors are used to represent political parties. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of

    Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the 'Gulabi gang' poses prior to attend the 4th edition of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society 'Building the future with women's vision' on October 17, 2008 in Deauville. AFP PHOTO MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of

    Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the 'Gulabi gang' poses prior to attend the 4th edition of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society 'Building the future with women's vision' on October 17, 2008 in Deauville. AFP PHOTO MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of

    Indian Sampat Pal, founder and leader of the 'Gulabi gang' arrives to attend the 4th edition of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society 'Building the future with women's vision' on October 17, 2008 in Deauville. AFP PHOTO MYCHELE DANIAU (Photo credit should read MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images)