NEW DELHI: NCW Chairperson Mamta Sharma's remark that the word "sexy" should not be taken in a negative connotation has drawn the ire of women's rights activists who demanded her resignation even as she rebutted criticism saying the comment was made in a "broad" context.
"She can say whatever she wants to as Mamata Sharma but as the head of NCW, she can't make such ridiculous statements.
Even the law says that sexually coloured remarks are tantamount to harassing women. For her (Sharma), the remark might not mean anything, but we see it as a way of promoting violence," said PUCL general secretary Kavita Srivastava.
She said Sharma must take "moral responsibility" for her "irresponsible" remark and step down from her post.
At a function in Jaipur yesterday, the NCW Chairperson said "sexy" meant "beautiful and charming" so it should not be taken in a negative sense.
"Boys pass comments on girls terming them sexy but sexy means beautiful and charming. We should not see it in a negative sense," she had said in the function held by a women's organisation.
"It is shocking that Sharma is commenting on how women and girls should receive the word 'sexy'. We are outraged and shocked by what she has said," women's organisations in Rajasthan said in a joint statement.
Joining the chorus against the remark, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said the statement should not have been made even if there was no malafide intention involved.
"I think any statement which leads to the commodification of women should not be said even if there is no malafide intention. Caution must be exercised while making statements, especially by women who occupy positions of significance," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman told PTI.
The BJP had yesterday described Sharma's remark as "demoralising for women" and had demanded her resignation.
Reacting to the incident, the CPI(M) said the "real issue" was lost in the controversy.
"Focus on a particular word is misplaced. Any word that is unsolicited or unwanted, which is about, on or to a woman, is an offence. That is the real issue, not just the word," said CPI(M) leader and prominent women's rights activist Brinda Karat.
Seeking to downplay the controversy, Sharma said she had made the remark in a "broader context" since she was addressing the youth.
"My remark was made in the broader context since I was addressing the youth. But the same does not imply for strangers or roadside Romeos who use the word sexy to tease girls. That is condemnable," she told PTI.
"I would like to clarify that the younger generation is literate and have certain different approach and have come to terms with words like sexy which is not held to be a derogatory remark. But that doesn't mean anyone can use it," she said.
"I was positive in my approach so I said that sexy means beautiful. One should take it in positive sense," the Chairperson added.