In the backdrop of growing public outcry for safety and security measures for women in the country, All India Sunni Jam-Iyyathul Ulema General Secretary and religious leader Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musaliyar kicked off a controversy after he said that the growing demand for gender equality went against nature.
"The demand for male-female equality is against nature. Man and woman have different faculties and different responsibilities," Kanthapuram told The Times of India report.
The Sunni scholar made the statement in an interview published in the Friday edition of Malayalam daily Siraj.
Kanthapuram claimed that the perception of women having an equal status as men was wrong. He argued that feminism was a western concept and added, "When we accept ideas from outside, we need to consider whether they are acceptable to our society."
He also supported RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat statement over the role of women in Indian society saying, "He has shown the space that should be occupied by women in society. Though I do not agree with his entire statement, the basic issue he raised needs to be discussed."
Bhagwat had earlier said that husband and wife were involved in a contract in which the duty of women was to take care of the household, and if she violated the contract terms the husband could disown her.
Kanthapuram also suggested that the attacks on women were connected to their way of dressing. He disagreed with slogans of women protestors in the anti-rape demonstrations which stated: "Don't speak about our dress, tell others not to attack us".
He condemned the slogan and commented that it was equal to saying that we will keep our houses open, but you stop stealing.
The scholar, who founded Markazu Ssquafathi Ssunniyya - a Shafi'i Sunni Islamic school in Kerala, was recently in the news after he was alleged to have been involved in the development of a mosque in Calicut with an intention of exploiting religious beliefs for commercial gain.
Kanthapuram attributed the low rate of crimes against women in Arab nations to the restrictions imposed on them and added that excess of freedom was the root of many problems in India. "Strong punishment for perpetrators of violence against women alone may not suffice in solving the issue; equally important is avoiding situations that lead to such crimes," he said.