Padma Lakshmi 'Not Surprised' by Deadly Rape Case

January 08, 2013

Top Chef star Padma Lakshmi says although she's "disgusted" by the deadly gang-rape of a student in her home country of India, she's not surprised the attack happened.

Lakshmi spoke about the brutal attack Tuesday on CNN's OutFront with Erin Burnett. "I'm from India and well, it didn't surprise me, it disgusted me... And it reminded me -- it brought back to me all of those feelings of when I was walking in Delhi," she said.

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Calling the behavior of some men in India "aggressive and intimidating," Lakshmi recalled her own experiences riding to school. "I used to ride the bus in India to school and I hated it. I hated going on a crowded bus because they would always pinch you or grab you and you know when you’re a teenager. I went to school some years in India and it was terrible."

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died two weeks after being gang-raped and beaten aboard a bus in New Delhi. The case triggered widespread protests and has sparked a fierce public debate over increased police involvement to curb rampant violence against women.

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In the interview, Lakshmi also pointed out that in Hindi -- the predominant language spoken in India -- there is no actual word for "rape." "The closest word is I guess 'lootna,' which kind of means to take someone's honor away," she said. "But to say that because a woman has been violated she no longer has her chastity or her honor is missing the point. Therein lies the problem."

Burnett's full interview with Lakshmi airs on tonight's OutFront at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. EST on CNN.



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