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Meet The Group Of Teen Rape Survivors Fighting For Women’s Safety In India

These are the "Power Girls" reclaiming Lucknow.

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Back in 2006, then 18-year-old Usha Vishwakarma was sexually assaulted by a coworker. In 2011, she founded the Red Brigade, a group of young women working to make India safer.

Manpreet Singh / Via femina.in

At the time of its inception, the Red Brigade functioned on the basic principle that the way to cut down on sexual assault of women is to publicly humiliate and, at times, seek violent revenge against the men responsible. Usha's goal was to equip young women with the skills and confidence required to do so.

"First we try to resolve the matter peacefully. If they do not listen and alter their ways, we teach them a lesson in public," a member named Laxmi told the Times of India.

Today, Usha's world-famous army of teenage rape survivors has around 22 members, all of whom live in Lucknow's Madiyav slum area.

The group of young women has a multi-pronged approach to keeping women in their city safe. They organise rallies, provide counselling and, most importantly, train school girls and young women in self defense.

Over the years, their work has received widespread media coverage around the world.

Recently, London-based filmmaker Jayisha Patel heard about the Red Brigade and decided to look closer at their day-to-day lives.

AJ+

"The media attention they had got mainly focused on the activities they do but I felt given all the members have either been raped, sexually abused or gone through attempted harassment, that it was important to get a more intimate story about what their lives are really like... Fighting to empower others, whilst simultaneously having to deal with the consequences of their own incidents," Patel told BuzzFeed.

Watch the powerful short film in full here.

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