Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old student, was gang-raped and assaulted with a metal pole in New Delhi by six men on a bus while travelling home with a male friend, who was also beaten unconscious.
Singh was transported to Singapore to receive medical treatment but died from her injuries on 28 December (12), two weeks after the attack.
The incident sparked widespread outrage in the country and led to calls for tougher protection for women, but the Top Chef star was not surprised by the horror.
Speaking on CNN’s OutFront show on Tuesday (08Jan13), Lakshmi opened up about her childhood, revealing she hated travelling by bus in India because the behaviour of some male passengers is “aggressive and intimidating”.
She says, “I was saddened and I was sickened. I literally felt nauseous. I’m from India and while it (the attack) 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.
“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 (for) some years in India and it was terrible…
“There is no actual word for rape. The closest word (in Hindi, India’s predominant language) is I guess ‘lootna,’ which kind of means to take someone’s honour away. But to say that because a woman has been violated she no longer has her chastity or her honour is missing the point. Therein lies the problem.”