It may sound unnecessary or even provoking to some restless propagandists, but Union minister Mahesh Sharma’s statement on not wearing skirts is actually in the interest of India’s culture which respects women. There is nothing wrong in suggesting in a welcome kit that tourist women don’t use skirts especially while traveling alone and in small cities. It is not wrong to say the right thing. What may be wrong though is to say the right thing to wrong people.
There are people who would want to twist the meaning of his statement and politicize it. There may also be some activists who would like to join in and get some publicity. Some media agencies have already started criticizing the statement. This only shows how less they care for women’s safety. Anyone can say– everything is fine, wearing skirts or shorts, let them do whatever they want– and it may sound good. The reality, however, is that such indifferent attitude towards tourists can come only from those who don’t care for or have no responsibility towards them.
“These dos and don’ts include suggestions that if they are in small cities, they should not roam alone at night nor wear dresses like skirts,” he said. “We also suggest them to click photographs of number plate of cabs they are travelling in and send it to their friends so that the number is stored and circulated,” Mr Sharma was quoted as saying. The Union minister added there was no intention to suggest a dress code for visiting women.
India is a place where women are traditionally respected as mothers and sisters. Any caring man would suggest, advise or request his sister or mother what not to do for her own safety. Unfortunately in the so-called modern world modesty is branded as old-fashioned and women are encouraged to expose as much as possible. Instead of explaining how to dress, they are taught how to undress, and the fashion industry is aggressively used to promote such degraded theories. The world has become so degraded that in some places women wearing skirts is considered conservative. This is why recently we hailed London’s mayor for declaring ban on ads exposing women. If London can do it New Delhi certainly can.
On the other hand, men should not think that they have a license to lust over women if their dress exposes them. It is not really about how women should look; it is more about how they should be looked at. In absence of this education, the safety for women automatically meets with unpredictable challenges from unscrupulous men when they are not dressed well. Not wearing skirt or modestly covering legs does not guarantee women’s safety either but a well-dressed (meaning properly covered) woman automatically wins respect from civilized people in India. When people see a properly dressed respected woman insulted or assaulted, they are more likely to protest than in the case of ill-dressed women.
This is not to say the government authorities have no responsibility towards women protection and that by suggesting on not wearing skirts their job is over. The point being made is, in the absence of proper education and in presence of widespread ill-intended propaganda, it may help women if they cover them better while traveling in India where modesty still has some value and will automatically earn them respect.