Women should be cautious of what they wear to beaches and bars, a minister in the Indian state of Goa warned this week.
Sudin Dhavalikar, minister of Goa's public works department, suggested that bikinis were to blame for sex crimes on beaches in the southwestern state, The Guardian reports. The senior minister reasoned the apparel is against Indian culture and went so far as to suggest a bikini ban.
"We should not allow girls with bikinis to enter public places because it very difficult to control people who arrive in Goa from different states. By the time victim reaches the police it is too late. It is better to control such type of activities on the beaches," Dhavalikar said Tuesday, according to the Press Trust of India.
But, by Wednesday, the 57-year-old politician was already backpedaling on his remarks, apologizing for how his statement may have been received.
"I withdraw the statement if it has hurt anybody. I was misunderstood. I had no intention of hurting women -- I was only concerned about their safety," Dhavalikar told NDTV.
For his comments, Dhavalikar not only gained the ire of women's groups, but he also felt some blowback in Goa.
Congress members called for Dhavalikar's expulsion and, in a pointed jab, sent the minister a pink skirt.
"We demand his expulsion from the Cabinet," Goa Congress representative Durgadas Kamat told Indo-Asian News Service. "Sudin Dhavalikar should have better concentrated on water problems in the state rather than doing moral policing and advocating what women should wear."
India's ruling Hindu nationalist party also sought to distance itself from Dhavalikar's suggestion for a bikini ban.
"It is a (worldwide) accepted fact that a bikini is a swimsuit, so how can it be banned in Goa?" Wilfred Mesquita, a Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman in Goa, told The Wall Street Journal. "Surely he doesn’t expect women to swim in a sari or salwar-kameez?”