A news network in India's northeastern state of Assam has triggered public outrage for its report comparing young women dressed in shorts to monkeys. The report, which aired last month, drew widespread attention in the country last week.
The network, Pratidin Time, removed the controversial report from its website, but a video of the report is available on YouTube. The footage begins with a shot of a monkey dressed in pants and a reporter interjects to compare women in shorts to monkeys and adds that girls in the state capital Guwahati wear shorts because for them fashion means showing skin.
The almost four-minute long video shows young women and girls walking around the city in shorts, dresses and T-shirts. The clip also shows a local man saying that the northeastern state's culture is not the same anymore and that young women wearing such clothes blame men who look at them.
People gathered in Guwahati Sunday to protest against the video, but police arrested the demonstrators and booked them for curfew violations, despite no curfew announcement being made, Indo-Asian News Service news agency (IANS) reported Tuesday.
The channel’s editor-in-chief, Nitumoni Saikia, apologized in a Facebook post for “unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments.”
“We are responsible for what was aired, but the packaging and some of the content (referring to the part about monkeys) were wrong. Warning has been given to the reporter regarding the matter not to repeat anything similar in future,” Saikia said, according to IANS.
However, he justified his opposition to women wearing short dresses and said: “Will you go to a wedding to “naamghar” (traditional Assamese prayer hall) wearing a pair of shorts? No. Some things will never be a part of or be welcomed into Assamese society.”
Saikia added that Assam's society needed to open up to a lot of things, especially in terms of how people dressed. Saikia said that what the reporter “wanted to convey was not intended to hurt anyone. It was to only show people what is going on in the city these days,” IANS reported.
It's not uncommon in India for people to be judged on what they wear and how they conduct themselves in public. On Aug. 7, police in the country’s financial capital Mumbai raided hotel rooms and booked about 40 young couples for public indecency. Some young women who said they had checked into the hotel rooms with their fiancés alleged that female constables slapped and humiliated them.