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Padma Lakshmi Speaks Out On Being Raped At 16, And Why Women Stay Silent


Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi has, in a New York Times Op-Ed, revealed that she was raped by an older boyfriend when she was 16. Lakshmi’s revelation comes in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s tweet rubbishing allegations raised by two women against the Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“The two of us had gone to a couple of parties. Afterwards, we went to his apartment. While we were talking, I was so tired that I lay on the bed and fell asleep,” says Lakshmi, as she narrated the incident that took place on a New Year’s Eve. The next thing she remembered was waking up to an excruciating pain. Her boyfriend, who was then 23 years old then, drove her home afterwards.

Lakshmi, who remained silent in the hope of forgetting the incident, felt that it was her fault as the incident failed to classify as rape in her head. She would have to lie about her virginity to her future boyfriends. “Emotionally, I still was” she felt.

She also recalled being sexually abused at the age of seven by a relative. She told her parents that, and was sent away to India to live with her grandparents. The incident taught her that speaking up would result in being cast out and was another reason that prevented her from reporting the rape.

“Looking back, I now think I let my rapist off the hook and I let my 16-year-old self down,” says Lakshmi, who adds she been teaching her eight-year-old daughter that  she owns her body, so that she doesn’t go through what her mother did.

Trump, in his tweet, said that the allegations would have held water had the victims filed a police report during the time of the incident. Lakshmi said that being a survivor herself, she perfectly understood why the women would keep the information to themselves and avoid involving the police.

“I am speaking now because I want us all to fight so that our daughters never know this fear and shame and our sons know that girls’ bodies do not exist for their pleasure and that abuse has grave consequences,” she concluded.

Image Courtesy: New York Times


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