Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma has inadvertently invited flak for himself after suggesting that foreign tourists visiting India should not wear skirts and short dresses and avoid going out alone at night.
I did not comment on what women should wear or not,was just speaking in context of religious places: Mahesh Sharma pic.twitter.com/6cDemekTfd— ANI (@ANI_news) August 29, 2016
Even after the minister clarified that he was referring to religious places and was in no way trying to dictate women on what to wear, people across fraternities have taken to social media to criticise him, calling the statement loaded with misogyny and gross understanding of Indian culture.
Finding the issue being blown out of proportion confusing, to say the least, we were tempted to dig out what other countries have advised their women about travelling in India.
Turns out other countries have cautioned their women in near similar way as our controversy-stricken minister did. Even though no country specifically mentions skirt or shorts, most use the term "conservative" to define Indian dress customs, urging their women to follow suit.
The women travelers have been suggested to respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas if they are travelling alone at any time of the day.
They have also been cautioned about taking public transports particularly at night. And if they go for mobile taxi cab service, they have been advised to let their family/friends know about the journey details so their location can be pinpointed in case of emergency.
The US has again asked its women to again respect local dress and customs, specifying that it is "conservative". It defines this sort of clothing as one "that covers their legs and shoulders." The US particularly cautions them about following unsaid rules when visiting religious places. These include covering of head, removal of shoes and other requirements for appropriate attire.
Australia again tells its women to dress up "conservatively" in India and to comply with what local women are wearing. It also says that "as in Australia, avoid walking alone after dark or in isolated areas."
The New Zealanders too have also been cautioned about conforming to the local dress codes and costumes. They have also been warned against traveling alone.