In an op-ed published in New York Times on Tuesday, American top chef and author Padma Lakshmi stated that she was sexually assaulted when she was 7 and raped when she was 16.
Padma’s article has come as a response to US President Donald Trump’s question posed to Christine Blasey Ford asking why she didn’t immediately report when she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the 1980s reportedly. The question later inspired the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport on social media.
Padma, sharing her harrowing experience of harassment, in the article wrote:
“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,” Lakshmi wrote.
“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.
In the article, the host shared how she had been ‘taught a lesson’ for speaking up. “When I was 7 years old, my stepfather’s relative touched me between my legs and put my hand on his erect penis.
If you speak up, you will be cast out
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.”
Padma then shared how as a repercussion of the tragic experiences she faced made her unable to trust anyone. “These experiences have affected me and my ability to trust. It took me decades to talk about this with intimate partners and a therapist.”
Lakshmi added, “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.”