Sunday, July 3, 2022
HomeFashionTips for Indian politicians who tell women what to wear - BBC.com

Tips for Indian politicians who tell women what to wear – BBC.com

An Indian politician has caused outrage once again for saying that foreign tourists should avoid wearing skirts. The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi has collected some tips for politicians with a tendency to dispense unsolicited fashion advice to women.
There was uproar at the weekend when Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said that a list given to tourists at airports advised them not to wear skirts or dresses in India or venture out alone at night in small towns
Sadly, he is not the first – and he certainly won't be the last – to deliver such advice to women on how to keep themselves safe and avoid rape.
Time and again, ministers, politicians and other influential community leaders have been telling women and girls not to wear jeans, short skirts, dresses or shorts. Women have also been told not to go out after dark, date, be friends with boys, or even use mobile phones.
Here's a list of recent offenders:
Since the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus in December 2012 in Delhi, there is much more scrutiny within India – and globally – of what influential people and opinion makers say about violence against women.
The justification offered by many in India's largely paternalistic society is that these remarks are well meaning and actually meant to protect women.
But women activists and commentators disagree – they say that there's no correlation between short skirts and rape.
"It's very very important that these politicians stop telling women what sort of clothes to wear or what not to wear," Swati Maliwal, chief of Delhi Commission for Women, told the BBC.
"It's time they stop trivialising issues like rape and sexual harassment and do something constructive to address these serious problems."
For the politicians who seem to be afflicted with foot-in-mouth disease, former public relations professional Chaya Srivatsa, who is also a life coach with an info-tech firm, has some good advice.
She points out that Mr Sharma also suggested that if female tourists were taking a cab at night, they take a photo of the number plate and send it to a friend or family member so that the driver would know not to misbehave.
"That was a good thought, but that went completely unnoticed. Our politicians are not good at communication. They should learn to say it in the proper manner.
"He should have just said: Sorry we have jerks here, be careful."
I also asked comedienne Neeti Palta to come up with suggestions on what our politicians should not say to stay out of controversy. Here's her wish list:
Politicians have been told to emerge in 2016. Or, perhaps they could go back to the past.
For, according to historians, modesty crept into Indian women's wardrobes during the Victorian era.
And what would surprise many is that the blouse and the petticoat – worn with the sari that's often described as India's national dress – only became popular with Indian women during the British rule. This means the notions of traditional modesty may not really have their roots in Indian tradition.
Whatever the argument over where prudishness came from, Indian politicians would do well to heed this sage advice – that instead of advising women what to wear, they should advise men on how to behave.
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