“It isn’t women who need to change their style of dressing, it’s men who need to change their style of thinking and perception of women,” Union Women and Child Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath said here on Sunday.
She was reacting to Madhya Pradesh Industries Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya’s statement that “women should not dress provocatively.”
“Women covered in yards of clothes are not going to change the mindset of men who believe that violence against women and the abuse of her rights as a human being is acceptable. It is a shame that political leaders in such high posts think and talk in a manner that is very derogatory to women. Women in India enjoy just as much freedom as men in the country and it is a right that the law of the land has bestowed on them. Such statements are an attempt to snatch away that freedom of expression and it will not be tolerated,” she added.
Expressing dismay at Mr. Vijayvargiya’s statement, social activist Shabnam Hashmi said: “Do women really need to be policed about what they wear in India in this day and age? We strongly condemn such statements that are being made all too often these days. With this statement, the onus of violence against women and their abuse now seems to have been cleverly shifted from the attacker to the victim, which is a very wrong trend. Women in our country don’t get raped, abused and killed because of the clothes they wear or don’t wear, it because men feel that they can get away with it and leaders in such high positions making a statement like this only adds to this wrong belief.”
Senior advocate Pinky Anand said: “While every citizen of this country has the right to his/her opinion, telling half the population of the country how to dress certainly doesn’t seem right. It is a very unfortunate statement. What makes it worse is the context that it was said in.”
Mr. Vijayvargiya made the statement on Saturday in relation to the Guwahati incident where a group of men molested a girl on July 9
The National Commission of Women too has come out strongly against the statement. “India is a free country and all its citizens, irrespective of their gender, have equal rights. We take strong objection to such public statements which when coming from a senior Minister becomes even more distasteful,” said Commission chairperson Mamata Sharma.