Indian-American model Padma Lakshmi says she was raped at 16

Padma Lakshmi
(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Padma Lakshmi (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Prominent Indian-American model and host Padma Lakshmi has opened up about being raped as a teenager.

Lakshmi said she wanted to talk about being raped in the wake of allegations of sexual assault on US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. In an article she penned for The New York Times, Lakshmi said she was hesitant to talk about the incident fearing she would be blamed for bringing it upon herself.

“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 wrote, adding that she was raped on just a few months after she started dating her boyfriend. The unidentified man was a 23-year-old college student at the time.

The Top Chef host also revealed that she was sexually assaulted by stepfather’s relative when she was seven. Shortly after Lakshmi told her parents, she was sent to India for a year to live with her 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,” Lakshmi wrote.

Explaining her reason for coming out with the story now, the 48-year-old wrote: “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.”