Raped at 16, kept silent: Indian-American model Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi, a prominent Indian-American model-cum-host, has alleged she was raped by her boyfriend at the age of 16. Lakshmi said she kept quiet for 32 years as she feared fingers would point at her for bringing it upon herself. She wanted to bring out this secret in wake of allegations of sexual assault on US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the 48-year-old added.
In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, Lakshmi wrote that she was reminded of her feelings about the incident last week by allegations surrounding US President Donald Trump's choice for Supreme Court. "I have been turning that incident over in my head throughout the past week, as two women have come forward to detail accusations against the SC nominee Brett Kavanaugh," Lakshmi wrote.
"Christine Blasey Ford (the first accuser) said he (Kavanaugh) climbed on her and covered her mouth during an attempted rape when they were both in high school, and Deborah Ramirez (second accuser) said he exposed himself to her when they were in college," Lakshmi wrote. She further revealed that she was raped on New Year's Eve, few months after she started dating her boyfriend.
However, the 'Top Chef' host, Lakshmi, did not reveal the name of her boyfriend who was a 23-year-old college student at that time. In her opinion piece, she also was critical of President Trump for having questioned the two women and their intentions.
"On Friday, Trump tweeted that if what Blasey said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago," Lakshmi said. "I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police. For years, I did the same thing. On Friday, I tweeted about what had happened to me so many years ago," she said.
According to Lakshmi, she was sexually assaulted by her stepfather's relative when she was seven. "Shortly after I told my mother and stepfather, they sent me to India for a year to live with my grandparents. The lesson was: If you speak up, you will be cast out," she wrote. "These experiences have affected me and my ability to trust," she added.
"It took me decades to talk about this with intimate partners and a therapist. Some say a man shouldn't pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her," Laksmi wrote. She has an eight-year-old daughter now, in whom she's imparting life lessons.
Padma said, "I've been telling her (daughter) the simplest and most obvious words: If anybody touches you in your privates or makes you uncomfortable, yell loud. You get out of there and tell somebody." Explaining why she chose to reveal her story, Lakshmi explained, "We all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault."