India

KJ Yesudas: India singer criticised for 'sexist' jeans remark

India jeans ad Image copyright AFP
Image caption Singer Yesudas caused outrage with his comments on women wearing jeans

Women's groups in the southern Indian state of Kerala have criticised the legendary singer KJ Yesudas for saying women should not wear jeans.

The singer said that wearing jeans was "against Indian culture" and provoked "undesirable" behaviour.

He is popular for singing Indian classical and devotional songs and has won several prestigious music awards.

But his comments prompted several groups to lead protest marches in the state capital, Trivandrum.

"Women should not wear jeans and trouble others. You should dress modestly and do not behave like men," the singer told a gathering at the Swati Thirunal College of Music in the state capital, Trivandrum, on Thursday.

"People would be tempted to pay attention to what's beyond it... Don't do it to attract and make others do the undesirable," he said, drawing applause from a section of the male audience.

"Whatever should be covered, should be covered. We appreciate what's concealed and that's our culture," he added.

#Yesudas on Twitter

By Friday morning #Yesudas was making an appearance among Indians on Twitter.

They responded with a mixture of despair, outrage but some expressed their support for his position.

Activist Kavita Krishnan suggested he cover his eyes rather than ask women to cover up. Others he suggested he cover his mouth.

But there were also some tweets that said he was merely speaking out in defence of Indian traditions.

One user, Shyam, tweeted that Yesudas has the right to state his views and was an "elderly person with wisdom".

Women in both the state's ruling Congress party and the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have condemned the remarks and asked the singer to withdraw them and apologise.

The Congress party's Bindu Krishna said the singer's comments were "immature" and "vulgar" while CPI(M) MP TN Seema said they smacked of "perversion" and insulted Kerala's achievements in gender equality.

"This is really shocking! If this is the attitude of a cultural icon like him, there's some serious trouble with our society," Ms Seema told BBC.

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