Men need to call out their peers for predatory behaviour: Padma Lakshmi

Juneau (Alaska), Sep 22 : India-born supermodel Padma Lakshmi has great respect for the women coming out with their own experiences of sexual abuse, and says it takes incredible courage to come forward in "our victim-blaming culture".

"It's so demoralising to me that this is the tone of the national conversation. Men need to step the f**k up and call out their peers for disgusting, predatory behaviour. Now more than ever," Padma posted on Twitter.

Her tweet came as a response to actor Andy Richter's post, which read: "I'm 51. It is appalling to me that the 'Why women don't report sexual assault' pieces that I've seen published throughout my entire life are still necessary. As if simple human empathy wasn't enough to understand why. Be better, men. You make life awful for women. Stop it."

Padma, whose tryst with glamour started when she stepped on the ramp and acquired the tag of a supermodel, also opened up about her experiences of sexual abuse.

"I was 7 the first time I was sexually assaulted. He was a relative of my mom's second husband. I told my folks and they sent me away," she recalled.

"The second time I was 16 years old and a virgin. He was my boyfriend. 'Date rape' wasn't discussed in the 1980s. I was horrified and ashamed. The third time I was assaulted I was 23. I thought that no one would believe me, because no one wanted to stand up to him. I had seen the way Anita Hill was treated when she came forward," the actress added.

Padma, who has featured in "Wasteland", "Pirates: Blood Brothers", "Boom" and "The Mistress of Spices", slammed the whole victim-blaming culture.

"To people saying 'Why didn't he/she report it?', when something so evil happens to you it takes a long time to process it. In our victim-blaming culture, it takes incredible courage to come forward. The victim is treated like the perpetrator."

Padma added that "sexual predators try to hold power over their victims: physically, financially or socially".

"They might threaten to kill you, ruin your reputation or blacklist you in your industry. And the whole time you're steeped in shame over a trauma you didn't cause," said the mother of one.

After expressing her anger about the way sexual abuse incidents are handled, she said: "It's not about fathers telling their seven-year-old daughters to speak up. It's about men not doing this in the first place. It's about men calling out their peers for their disgusting behaviour. It's about accountability."