India minister Abdullah sorry for 'sexist' remarks

Farooq Abdullah (file photo) Mr Abdullah faced strong criticism after making his comments

An Indian government minister has apologised after making comments denounced by critics as sexist.

Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah had said that he was "scared to talk to women" because he "might end up in jail because of a complaint".

His comments came amid public concern about sexual harassment.

After women's rights activists accused him of trivialising a serious issue, Mr Farooq issued a partial apology for "hurting sentiments".

But he said that he had been "completely misunderstood".

In the comments that caused offence Mr Farooq said: "I'm scared to talk to a woman these days. I don't even want to keep a female secretary.

"Who knows, I might end up in jail because of a complaint."

Speaking outside parliament, he added that he was not "blaming the girls. I'm blaming society itself".

Correspondents say that his remarks have come at a sensitive time.

Allegations by a young lawyer that she was sexually harassed by a top judge followed huge protests earlier this year over the fatal gang rape of a student in Delhi.

Four men were sentenced to death for that crime in September. The case also forced the Indian government to strengthen its sexual violence laws.

More recently the editor of India's leading investigative magazine, Tehelka, was remanded in custody to face a rape charge that could see him jailed for 10 years after a complaint from a junior colleague. The editor, Tarun Tejpal, denies the charge and is being questioned by police.

Mr Abdullah's son Omar - who is chief minister of the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir which borders Pakistan - joined calls for his father to apologise.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "I'm sure the attempt wasn't to trivialise important issue of women's security so I hope dad apologises for the misplaced attempt at humour."

"

More on This Story

Rape scandal

Related Stories

More India stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain


  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'


  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?


  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets

Programmes

  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.