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Phoolan Devi

Miriam Klein Stahl & Boff Whalley

“What others called a crime, I called justice.”
February 1981. A twenty-four-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, kidnapping for ransom, and looting villages. Most importantly, she is accused of killing twenty-two 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.

Printed at the worker-owned Stumptown Printers, Portland, OR.

This is #16 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series.