six faces of the bandit queen, with text between

Phoolan Devi poster

by Miriam Klein Stahl Author

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—including the massacre of 22 high-caste men in the village of Behmai 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. If you want to learn more about her, her autobiography I, Phoolan Devi is long out-of-print but well-worth seeking out, for her fierce, spirited story.


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