Women attending ADB meet in India told to avoid wearing short skirts

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Women attending the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) annual meeting in New Delhi have been advised to avoid wearing short skirts since they could lead to sexual harassment, according to a website notice on Thursday.

The Manila-based ADB, whose board of governors is meeting this weekend in the Indian capital to discuss the global economy, advised delegates from nearly 70 countries to dress modestly in the sexually conservative nation.

Don't bare legs or wear short dresses as it "could hurt Indian sensibilities and may lead to sexual harassment", the advisory posted by the ADB told women delegates expected to attend the meeting.

In a section titled "Common Faux Pas", it says kissing and embracing are regarded in India as "part of sex" and asks delegates not to engage in such activities. "It is not even a good idea for couples to hold hands," advises the ADB, which is hosting two days of seminars before the formal start of its meeting on Saturday.

The ADB later removed its dress advice from the site, with a spokesman saying the agency had merely wanted to send a message to "dress sensibly in a businesslike fashion".

The advice comes amid a national focus on sexual offences against women following the fatal gang rape of a student on a Delhi bus in mid-December. The horrific attack sparked national demonstrations over the lack of safety for women.

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women said in New Delhi on Wednesday the protests in the wake of the student's death seemed not to have had any effect in curbing sex offences.

"Sexual violence and harassment in India is (still) widespread, and is perpetuated in public spaces, in the family or in the workplace," Ms Rashida Manjoo said following a 10-day fact-finding mission.

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