India’s Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma is facing backlash after suggesting that female tourists arriving to the country avoid wearing skirts for their safety.
While speaking at a press conference regarding tourist security over the weekend, Sharma promoted a welcome kit that tourists receive when arriving in the country.
This welcome kit, Sharma said, would include a list of dos and don’ts, which would be “small things like, they should not venture out alone at night in small places, or wear skirts, and they should click the photo of the vehicle number plate whenever they travel and send it to friends.”
Introduced last year, the welcome kit was created in an effort to deal with the drop in numbers of female tourists to the country as cases of sexual assault continue to grow.
Upon further discussion of the kits, Sharma continued on to say, “For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts”, pointing to the fact that “Indian culture is different.”
The comments sparked controversy and backlash from critics who pointed to Sharma’s comments as putting the blame on women.
Sharma, who has been criticized for making controversial comments in the past, clarified his remarks this morning, stating that he was speaking specifically in regards to religious destinations within the country.
“I am a father of two daughters…I would never tell women what they should wear or not,” Sharma said regarding his earlier comments. “Such a ban is unimaginable, but it is not a crime to be cautious.”
Despite this, Sharma is still dealing with the backlash of his comments.
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.