An Indian minister has received widespread criticism for suggesting that "western clothes" were responsible for a slew of sexual assaults which took place in the city of Bangalore on New Year's Eve.
"A large number of youngsters gathered - youngsters who are almost like westerners," Karnataka's Home Minister G Parameshwara told The Times Now television network. "They try to copy westerners not only in mindset, but even the dressing, so some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kind of things do happen."
Abu Azmi, leader of the Indian regional Samajwadi Party echoed these comments Tuesday, blaming women's "short dresses" for the incident and callingwestern influence a "blot on the Indian culture".
Fellow politician Kiren Rijiju, the central government's junior home minister, called the comments "irresponsible" and stressed the importance of women's safety on his official Twitter account.
We can%27t allow the shameful act of #MassMolestation go unpunished. Bangaluru is a vibrant city & women safety is must in a civilised society— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) January 3, 2017
Lalitha Kumaramangalam, head of India's National Commission for women, said Parameshwara should resign over the comments.
"When will the Indian men learn to respect women? The minister should apologise to the women of the country and resign," Kumaramangalam told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Local media reports say hundreds of women fled the streets and hid behind police officers as a mob descended on them on New Year's eve. Police have not yet charged anyone but are said to be looking through CCTV footage which captured the event to attempt to identify attackers.