Several restrictions were imposed on women in India due to Islamic invasions, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Joint Secretary Krishna Gopal said on Sunday, according to PTI.

Gopal made the remark while speaking at an event on women’s empowerment at Delhi University. He claimed that before invasions by Islamic rulers, the practice of “sati” did not exist, and there were no restrictions on widow remarriages.

The practice of sati, which was banned in 1829, involved women being forcibly burnt alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

“Let’s come to the middle ages,” Gopal said on Sunday. “It was a very difficult time the entire country is struggling with subjugation. Temples were broken, universities destroyed and women were in danger. Lakhs of women were kidnapped and sold in international markets.”

He added: “[Ahmed Shah] Abdali, [Mohammed] Ghouri and [Mahmood of] Ghazni had all taken women from here and sold them. It was an era of great humiliation. So, to protect our women, our own society put multiple restrictions on them.”

Gopal said that the restrictions were measures put in place to deal with an “emergency situation”, The Indian Express reported.

Gopal also cautioned today’s Indian women against the influence of western culture, saying that they should pursue the professions of their choice, but not lose their identity as women.

“You use technology, fly planes, manoeuvre ships, go to ISRO [Indian Space Research Organisation], become a scientist, doctor or engineer do whatever you like but stay a woman,” Gopal said. “A woman is the pivot of the house, remember that. It is the woman who gives values to children and the family.”

He added: “Today women ask, ‘Is cooking our job?’. By cooking children stay with you, they feel loved. Do you know that Indiraji [former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi] used to manage her kitchen herself? When [Jawaharlal] Nehruji was Prime Minister, Indiraji used to control the kitchen.”