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Dec 06, 2013 at 01:29pm IST

Men scared to talk to women, they fear being jailed: Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Union New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah kicked up a row by making a controversial comment against women. Abdullah said men were scared to talk to women as they feared that they may end up in jail while commenting on the former Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly sexual harassment case.

"I'm scared to talk to a woman these days. I don't even want to keep a female secretary. Who knows, I might end up in jail because of a complaint. No, I'm not blaming the girls, I'm blaming the society itself. The society has reached this point where now after one direction, it's putting pressure on everyone," said Abdullah on Friday while going to Parliament.

ALSO SEE Farooq issues half-hearted apology for his comments

He came under fire from woman MPs and social activists with some of them pointing out that he was trying to trivialise sexual harassment.

Union Minister of State Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath said Abdullha's thought wasn't appropriate while Former Indian Police Service Officer Kiran Bedi criticised Abdullah and called him insecure". "Men who are sure of themselves will not make such comments. Those who are insecure make such statements," said Bedi.

Bharatiya Janata Party MP Smriti Irani, too, slammed Abdullah. "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 they can be demeaned. A senior political leader should at least understand that this is a sensitive issue and should not give any kind of indication that if women speak for their rights at the workplace, then that is a sign of danger for men and their rights," she said.

Women's rights activist Kavita Krishnan also deplored Abdullah's statement and said that such comments by senior politicians should be severely condemned.

But his son and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked him to apologise. "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," Omar tweeted.

But Farooq Abdullah is not the first politician to court controversy for his comments on women. Following the sexual assault allegation against Tehelka Founder-Editor Tarun Tejpal, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal had said companies were scared of hiring women. "When the anti-rape law was being strengthened, I expressed my concern that it will become difficult for women to get a job. I am getting reports that many senior officials are afraid to hire women," he had said.