New Delhi, Dec 6, 2013 (Agency)
Men are scared of talking to women as they fear ending up in jail, New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said Friday, apologising later.
"Now we are even afraid of talking to girls. We are scared now of appointing women secretaries," Abdullah said talking to reporters in the parliament complex.
He added that it was a social fault.
"I agree the incidents of rape have increased. Whatever is happening is wrong. It's not the fault of girls, but of society," he said.
He later apologised.
"Women should get their respect. I apologise if something has been said which I did not mean," Abdullah said.
"Things have gone haywire. We all are against rape, we are all against putting women low. If there is something that I have said which has hurt sentiments, then, I am sorry," he said.
The comments raked up a controversy and social activists and opposition leaders said they were inappropriate.
His son, Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, later on tweeted: "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."
Women and Child Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath said: "In our constitution, both the genders have equal rights but so far, women have been living in fear. If someone thinks so, that mindset should be changed".
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani was harsher. "It's a very inappropriate comment, especially to be made on the steps of parliament, indicating that women are only to be hired so that they can be called up unfavourably or demeaned," Irani said.
"Men who are sure of themselves will not make such comments. Those who are insecure make such statements," said former Indian Police Service officer and social activist Kiran Bedi.
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien tweeted: "Abdullah, what have you gone and said! Expect more sensitivity from a senior public figure. And the father of a daughter."