Few days back the Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma was asked what precautions has the government has taken for tourist safety in popular destinations of India. In his reply, he had said, “For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts… Indian culture is different from the western (culture).”
The remarks drew him flak from all over. Congress leader Manish Tiwari termed them as “most uncultured remarks” and Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal said the comments reveal a very “horrible and pathetic mindset”.
Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma terrascape
Tiwari said, “If Mahesh Sharma has his way, he will put every women in burqa. The Culture Minister of India at times comes out with most uncultured remarks. Diversity of culture is something the culture ministry should recognise.”
Congress leader Manish Tiwari dnaindia
“A two year-old is getting raped… Even she has enticed the boys? Actually they end up putting the onus on the girls. Where is the law and order? What about ensuring proper policing and ensuring conviction?” she asked.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also took a dig at Sharma, saying, “Women had greater freedom to wear clothes of their choice in Vedic times than they have in Modi times.”
Even former local BJP members of Greater Noida, Kapil Gurjar and Atul Sharma, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate ouster of Sharma from the cabinet.
Foreign media too took a dig at Sharma for his remarks. In an open letter to Sharma, columnist and author Ira Trivedi wrote to Sharma that India is not always unsafe for women.
“During my stay, I went out for morning runs in shorts, I wore mini skirts in restaurants and clubs and I roamed the streets wearing whatever I felt fit, without a single, discomfiting male or female gaze on my bare legs,” she wrote.
She said there is a need to address, change and punish the patriarchal mindset which makes Indian men feel that they can violate a woman without any consequences.
She said by restricting a woman, you are not protecting her, but you’re taking away her power. “By restricting a woman we are telling her that she is unsafe rather than empowering her by giving her the physical, mental and emotional security that she deserves,” she said.
In her letter, she said conditions should be created by taking measures such as instituting law and order, training police, punishing eve-teasing (unwanted advances on a woman), to make the environment more safe for the women.
Following protests, Sharma was forced to issue a clarification. He said his comments were “advisory in nature” and were meant for those tourists who were visiting religious places.