NEW DELHI: Female students need curfews to protect them from their own “hormonal outbursts”, India’s women’s minister has said, sparking ridicule on social media on Tuesday.

Many Indian universities inflict curfews on women while allowing their male students freedom to stay out at night, a policy that critics say is sexist and outdated.

Asked about the practice on a television talk show, Maneka Gandhi said it was necessary to protect young women from their own hormones. “To protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a certain protection, a Lakshman Rekha [red line] is drawn,” she said in comments broadcast on the NDTV news channel. “You can make it [the curfew] six, seven or eight, that depends on college to college but it really is for your own safety,” she told the studio audience of college students during a special show to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

Gandhi said a similar deadline should be put in place for male students, but many social media users ridiculed her for her comments. “You know what would be safest? Lock hormonal men in, instead of denying women the right to lead a full life,” tweeted one critic.

Gandhi is no stranger to controversy. Last year she angered women’s rights campaigners arguing for a law against marital rape by saying that could not apply in India because society viewed marriage as sacrosanct.