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Indian union minsiter’s remark sparks row
Publication Date : 07-12-2013
Union minister and National Conference leader, Farooq Abdullah, sparked a row by suggesting that women should not be hired as personal secretaries as one might land in jail if there is any complaint of sexual harassment by one's secretary.
As his alleged sexist remarks drew flak from women rights activists and leaders cutting across party lines - including his son and Jammu & Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah, and several women leaders - Abdullah apologised and claimed that his comments were misconstrued.
“These days the situation is such that one is scared of talking to girls. We feel that a lady should not be hired as a secretary. God forbid, if there is some complaint we may land in jail,” Abdullah told reporters outside Parliament House while responding to questions about sexual harassment cases involving people holding high offices.
As his comments triggered a controversy, Omar quickly tweeted saying he hoped his father would apologise. “I'm sure the attempt wasn't to trivialise the important issue of women's security, so I hope dad apologises for the misplaced attempt at humour,” Omar said.
Many castigated Abdullah for his remarks.
“In our Constitution, both the genders have equal rights but so far, women have been living in fear,” the union women and child development minister, Krishna Tirath said.
Criticising Abdullah, the BJP leader Smriti Irani said the remarks were “inappropriate”, coming from a senior minister like him.
Slamming Abdullah, CPI-M leader, Brinda Karat, reportedly said that Abdullah's implied that women should not make complaints against sexual harassment and if she does, she will be left unemployable.