Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma was addressing a press conference about the safety of tourists in Agra where he said that that tourists are given a welcome kit on arrival.
This includes a card of do’s and don’ts which states not venture out alone at night in small towns, do not wear skirts, and take a picture of registration number of your car and send it to a friend.
“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts… Indian culture is different from the western (culture),” he told reporters.
He has since backed out from the sexist comments and clarified that he spoke only referring to religious places and speaking out of concern.
“I am a father of two daughters…I would never tell women what they should wear or not. Such a ban is unimaginable, but it is not a crime to be cautious,” he said.
He said that various countries issues advisories from time to time but I would never tell women what they should wear on not.
Delhi Chief Minister and head of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) who is one the most scathing critic of the government tweeted a dig at the minister.
“Women had greater freedom to wear clothes of their choice in Vedic times than they have in Modi times,” Kejriwal said in a tweet.
Women had greater freedom to wear clothes of their choice in Vedic times than they have in Modi times
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 29, 2016
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal also condemned the comments suggesting Sharma should focus on governance than clothes of women. She also hit out at drawing parallel between rape and the attire of a woman.
Can’t believe politicians continue to equate rape with wearing skirt. So easy to shirk responsibility and blame a women’s attire for rape. — Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) August 28, 2016
Pl improve governance. No corelation in wearing skirt n rape. You hv put onus of rape on the girl which is pathetic. https://t.co/8Jcxdx2wh1
— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) August 29, 2016
Sharma who is from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is no stranger to controversy about comments on women in the past.
Last year, he said “nights out for girls were not part of Indian culture” and added he would defend India from “encroachment by Western culture”.
no one can tell a woman or a man how to dress whether you are a holy man/minister/prime minister etc etc #mondaymotivation
— Sapna Moti Bhavnani (@sapnabhavnani) August 29, 2016
— Deepika (@dipka06) August 29, 2016
Dear foreigners…. Sorry to tell u that Indian government holds women responsible for being eve-teased or raped.Kindly adjust!#MaheshSharma
— Pooja Mishra (@poojatweeter) August 29, 2016