Dalai Lama’s ‘sexist’ remark draws mixed reactions from women activists

By: | Published: September 25, 2015 11:36 AM

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's 'sexist' remark in an interview to the BBC has drawn criticism from many in India while others dismissed it as being taken out of context.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s ‘sexist’ remark in an interview to the BBC has drawn criticism from many in India while others dismissed it as being taken out of context.

During a visit to London earlier this week, the spiritual leader waded into controversy when he told a BBC journalist during an interview that if his successor were to be a woman, she should be “attractive” or it would be of little use.

His remark has drawn criticism from Indian women activists, who say the Dalai Lama’s statement comes when women have already been facing prejudice in the modern society.

“People in public life have enormous influence, whether it’s the Dalai Lama or any senior politician or anybody. When you make a statement, even if it is said half-jokingly and not in a very serious demeanour, it unfortunately has repercussions. So my only reaction to that would be to request people of that stature to not make off-the-cuff remarks like this,” National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said.

However, Tibetans-in-exile in Dharamsala claimed the Dalai Lama meant attractiveness from within.

“An ‘attractive’ female Dalai Lama, according to His Holiness and according to how I perceive as, he is putting it out to be someone who has the right moral values, a virtuous person, someone who is not just female because of the sex aspect of it but is female because of all the good attributes that come along in being a female and that’s what is an attractive female Dalai Lama: someone who attracts everyone because of the virtues that the person holds. So I definitely look at it through that angle,” said a woman member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Dhardon Sharling.

Another Tibetan parliamentarian, B. Tsering said the Dalai Lama had often said women should take part in political leadership because of their compassionate nature.

“He has often said that if I am born as a female then the reason is that females are more compassionate. He even has said that political leadership should also be taken over by women because they are less corrupted, they are more compassionate and they are more virtuous as he believes,” said Tsering.

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