Padma Lakshmi, a prominent Indian-American model host, has alleged that she was raped by her boyfriend at the age of 16, saying she wanted to bring out this secret in the wake of allegations of sexual assault on US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Lakshmi, a former wife of controversial author Salman Rushdie, explained in an article in The New York Times that she kept quiet for 32 years as she feared fingers would point at her for bringing it upon herself.
The 48-year-old model and actress wrote that she was reminded of her feelings about the incident last week by allegations surrounding US President Donald Trump’s choice for the 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 Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” Lakshmi said in the opinion piece revealing that she was raped on New Year’s Eve, just few months after she started dating her boyfriend.
The ‘Top Chef’ host did not reveal the name of her boyfriend who was a 23-year-old college student at the time.
“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,” she wrote.
Lakshmi was critical of President Trump for having questioning the two women.
“On Friday, President Trump tweeted that if what Blasey said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago. But 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 her, she was sexually assaulted by 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. 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 a eight year daughter now. “For years I’ve been telling her the simplest and most obvious words that it took me much of my life to understand: “If anybody touches you in your privates or makes you feel uncomfortable, you yell loud. You get out of there and tell somebody. Nobody is allowed to put their hands on you. Your body is yours.”
Laksmi explained the reason for coming out with this story now.
“Now, 32 years after my rape, I am stating publicly what happened. I have nothing to gain by talking about this. But we all have a lot to lose if we put a time limit on telling the truth about sexual assault and if we hold on to the codes of silence that for generations have allowed men to hurt women with impunity, she said.