Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat triggered outrage on Saturday when he listed a string of sexist reasons for keeping women out of combat roles in the army.
In an interview with News18, Rawat claimed that women are not ready for combat roles because army men, who largely come from small villages, would not be willing to accept a female commander. He also claimed that women could die in combat, and Indian families are not yet ready to deal with the sight of women’s bodies returning from war zones. Implying that a woman’s primary responsibility is childcare, Rawat said that the army would not be able to give a woman commanding officer six months of maternity leave. He added that there would be a “ruckus” if women were denied that maternity leave.
In a bizarre statement, he also claimed that women in combat roles, surrounded by “100 jawans”, would inevitably complain about men peeping into their tents while they would be changing their clothes. “She will say somebody is peeping, so we will have to give a sheet around her,” he said.
Predictably, social media users reacted with indignation and disgust as they slammed Rawat’s statements.
Rawat’s comments about army men behaving like Peeping Toms drew the most of the ire on Twitter:
Some Twitter users expressed anger at Rawat using men’s “comfort” as an excuse for keeping women out of combat roles:
Meanwhile, some Twitter users are waiting for the end of Bipin Rawat’s term as army chief.