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Goa minister asks women not to wear short dresses or drink to stop crime

A senior minister in Goa’s BJP-led government, Sudin Dhavalikar, has said women should not wear bikinis in beaches “for their own safety”, and “girls in short skirts visiting pubs” is against the culture of the popular beach destination.

In response, the Congress says it will send Mr. Dhavalikar, Goa’s Public Works Department Minister, a “brand new mini-skirt” to show that party clothes do not mean disrespect to one’s culture.

Mr. Dhavalikar, a member of BJP ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, had provoked sharp criticism after suggesting on Monday that “young girls going to pubs in short dresses is against our culture.”

When asked him to clarify, he not just defended the comment but went a step further.

“For their own protection on public beaches, women should not wear bikinis. I am not against wearing bikinis in private places,” Mr. Dhavalikar, 57, said.

“Pub culture is not Indian culture and we don’t want Western culture. Young people go drinking and it often leads to law and order problems. Our sisters and daughters are getting spoilt. Goa was a city of temples and churches. We don’t want pub-tourism,” he added.

The minister’s aversion to pubs came through when he was reportedly speaking in defence of controversial activist Pramod Muthalik, who has talked about setting up a unit of his outfit, Sri Ram Sene, in Goa to “stop the culture of drugs, sex and nudity.”

Backing Mr. Muthalik, the minister said, “The (practice of) young girls going to pubs in short dresses does not fit in our culture. What will happen to our Goan culture, if we allow this? This must stop.”

The Sri Ram Sene is best known for its assault on women at a pub in Mangalore in 2009. Women were dragged by their hair, slapped and manhandled by Sri Ram Sene activists, who accused them of “loose morals”.

In March, just before the national election, the BJP disowned Mr. Muthalik five hours after inducting him into the party, amid a deluge of criticism from its rivals.

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