India’s minister of tourism has some safety advice for women visiting the country: Don’t wear skirts. “For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts…Indian culture is different from the Western,” Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said on Sunday, according to The Guardian. The advice came during a discussion of the welcome kit that the country's tourism ministry is issuing for visitors. The kit also advises female visitors to avoid walking alone at night. Minister Mahesh Sharma said that the advice in the kit consisted of “small things.” “[Women] should not venture out alone at night in small places, or wear skirts, and they should click the photo of the vehicle number plate whenever they travel and send it to friends,” he said. The safety suggestions are part of a response to declining tourism in the wake of several high- profile sexual assaults in the country, including the gang rape and murder of a medical student in 2012 and attacks on female tourists. Sharma said that he had no intention of creating a dress code for tourists, according to the BBC, but has been criticised for the comments on social media, where many saw the suggestion as sexist. “India needs to ban such conservative ministers, not skirts #rubbish,” wrote one critic.
Sharma has also been criticised in the past for suggesting that a girls’ night out was “not part of Indian culture,” according to The Times of India.