India’s Tourism Minister Suggests That Women Shouldn’t Wear Skirts And Walks It Back


India’s tourism minister is attempting to clean up the mess he made over the weekend by telling women that they shouldn’t wear skirts. Mahesh Sharma came under fire after making comments to the media while in the city of Agra, where he was promoting a new welcome kit that tourists will receive upon visiting India. “There’s a card in there listing the do’s and don’ts,” Sharma said at the time. “Basic things like, ‘Don’t go out at night alone.’ ‘Don’t wear skirts.'”

India already has a reputation for being dangerous for women, especially foreign tourists. Frequent incidents of harassment, assault, and rape have been reported. India is not properly equipped to handle crime. As CNN reports, the country “has a shortage of forensic laboratories, one of the worst police-to-citizens ratios in the world, and far fewer lawyers and judges than it needs to process cases.” Critics lambasted Sharma for putting the onus of stopping rape on women instead of the government.

On Monday, Sharma walked back his comments. “I am a father of two daughters,” he told reporters. “I would never tell women what they should wear or not.” However, it’s not the first time India’s tourism minister has caught flack for policing women’s behavior in response to a rape epidemic. Last year, Sharma said “Girls wanting a night out may be all right elsewhere but it is not part of Indian culture.”

Also, as CNN points out, the pamphlet Sharma referenced doesn’t even mention skirts.

(Via CNN & Quartz)