A DAY after Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma advised tourists not to wear skirts and refrain from going out alone at night in small towns, he on Monday clarified that his comments were meant for tourists visiting religious places.
“I did not comment on what women should wear or not, I was just speaking in the context of religious places,” he said. “If I ask women tourists to be a bit careful while moving around at night, what is wrong in it? I am simply concerned,” he added.
Responding to questions from the media about the safety of tourists in Agra, Sharma had said on Sunday: “…Paryatako ko, jab wo airport par aate hain, unko ek welcome kit di jaa rahi hai. Ek card hai usme, usme do’s and don’ts, kya karein aur kya na karein. Jaise chhoti chhoti batein hain, humne unhe bataya ke aap chhoti jagah par raat-waat ke time akele na niklein, skirts na pahnein… Doosra humne unhe bataya ki aap jis gaadi mein baithe, us gaadi ki number plate ka photo le lein aur apne… kisi dost ko forward kar dein… (We give welcome kits to tourists when they land at the airport. 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…)”
His remarks had immediately drawn flak from all quarters.
Congress leader Manish Tewari said: “India gives everybody the liberty to be permissive, modern, extremely liberal in their habits, disposition and even in the clothes that they wear… This diversity of culture is something that the culture minister should recognise. But as I said, if ‘Pandit’ Mahesh Sharma has his way, he will put every woman in this country in a burqa.”
Sharma also faced the ire of Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal. “It reveals a very horrible and pathetic mindset. Mindset that completely runs in our society. Fact is that two-year-olds are getting raped… They are also wearing shorts, so because of that they are getting raped. It’s a completely sad and medieval kind of thought process. At least it is not expected from a central minister. How could he speak like that? It is completely bizarre,” she said.
Taking a dig at Sharma, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Women had greater freedom to wear clothes of their choice in Vedic times than they have in Modi times.”