Three weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the need to attract more tourists to India, while addressing his first Townhall in Delhi, Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has advised foreign tourists not to wear skirts and to avoid staying out at night.
"We are telling the foreign tourists not to wear skirts in India and stay indoors at night," Sharma said at a press conference in Agra on Sunday.
Sharma told reporters that foreigners are given a welcome kit when they arrive in India, which includes do's and don'ts such as, "do not venture out alone at night in small towns, do not wear skirts."
From a safety standpoint, Sharma's comments suggest that a foreigner wearing a skirt is making herself vulnerable to harassment or an attack while visiting the country, and there is little that the authorities can do to protect her.
When reporters asked the minister to clarify whether the Indian government was trying to enforce a dress code, Sharma said that it was merely offering advice.
"Why should we indulge in suggesting a dress code for visitors?" he said. "All we want to say is that India is a nation of different cultures and religious places. They should wear dresses in accordance with the same."
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