Guardian Angels

04.08.135:30 PM ET

‘Red Brigade’ Combats Sexual Assault

In the north Indian city of Lucknow, women police the streets.

Whoever first coined the phrase “fight like a girl” clearly never crossed the Red Brigade, a red-suited band of women, in a dark alley of the Indian Midiyav slum. Made up of more than 100 members, ranging in age from 11 to 25 years old, the Red Brigade polices sexual abuse in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. With violence and rape at an all-time high in India—reports for molestation in Delhi up 590 percent year on year and rape reports up by 147 percent, as noted by The Guardian—the group is now particularly inspired to act. Motivated by their fearless leader, Usha Vishwakarma, a teacher who in 2009 opened an all-girls’ school after experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of a fellow male teacher, the Brigade first warns men who have tormented local girls and women. They then contact the police. If justice remains unrealized, the Brigade acts. Recently, the group cornered a man who had continuously shouted insulting and suggestive comments at women, hoisted him in the air, threw punches, and left him to limp home. Results are clear: one Brigade member has never again heard from her tormenter. Much is still to be done, though, and on the 29th of each month, the women (most of whom could still be called girls) protest, with battle cries of “Stop Rape Now” and “We Want Safety.”