Phoolan Devi poster

Phoolan Devi poster

by Miriam Klein Stahl

Phoolan Devi: "What others called a crime, I called justice." February 1981: A 24 year old village woman, born into poverty in India, is labeled 'The Bandit Queen'. She is charged with a number of major offenses including murder, kidnap for ransom and looting villages. Most importantly, she is accused of killing 22 high-caste men in the village of Behmai, a massacre undertaken as revenge for the death of her lover and repeated gang rape against herself. The question was often asked how a poor, uneducated and illiterate woman became a bandit. But Phoolan Devi's life, and the injustice she suffered because of her gender and her class, only make us wonder why other low-caste women (for Phoolan's experiences were not in any way unique) did not also become bandits.

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