’No skirts’: India’s tourism minister warns female foreigners
As another safety precaution, Sharma urged foreign women to photograph the license plates of any vehicles they travel in.
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
The ominous instructions were given at a press conference in Agra on Sunday, as India’s official safety advice to foreign women. Sharma said female tourists have been issued with a safety guidelines “kit” upon arriving into the country since last year.
"The kit includes a card with do’s and don’ts – such as, do not venture out alone at night in small towns, do not wear skirts; take a picture of the registration number of the vehicle you use and send it to a friend," said Sharma, as cited by The Indian Express.
“For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts,” he added, according to The Times of India. “Indian culture is different from the western.”
Sharma went on to clarify that India is not issuing a dress code for women, but rather asking them to “take precaution while going on a night out”.
Shouldn't @dr_maheshsharma issue guidelines/advisories to men on how to behave in public places too?— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) August 29, 2016
“I am a father of two daughters...I would never tell women what they should wear or not,” he said.
BJP's Mahesh Sharma responsibility is to promote Tourism, not adjudge the length of female skirts. Shameless— ツSonal ♡ (@SonalMehra_) August 29, 2016
Sharma’s comments have been slammed for reflecting “the syndrome of blaming women” by Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Delhi-based Centre for Social Research, in a country where a reported 92 women are raped each day.
Dear Mahesh Sharma, as tourism minister your job is to attract foreign tourists to India....not to scare them away. You are welcome— Manak Gupta (@manakgupta) August 29, 2016
“It was very stupid, not a fully thought-through statement. The minister doesn’t realize the implications of such irresponsible statements,” Kumari told The Guardian.