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British celebrity baker urges girls to speak out if sexually abused

Sun, 13th Oct 2019 20:14

By Molly Millar

CHELTENHAM, England, Oct 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
O ne of Britain's best-known celebrity chefs, Nadiya Hussain, on
Sunday spoke of the mental health issues she had struggled with
since being sexually abused as a young girl and urged others
girls facing the same ordeal to speak out.

Hussain, who shot to fame after winning top-rating TV show
"The Great British Bake Off" in 2015, said she was assaulted
when she was five years old but she didn't understand what had
happened until a school biology class years later.

She said the abuse by a friend of a relative in Bangladesh
had left her with mental health issues to this day, whilst she
had also had to come to terms with the difficulties of being
born a girl in a strict Bangladeshi family.

"I have grown up my whole life hearing about sexual abuse.
If I did not talk about it, I would be part of the problem and
not the solution," Hussain told Tan France of Netflix's Queer
Eye TV show at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

"It's very common. It is happening to men and women, and
we're not talking about it."

Hussain, 34, first went public about the fact she was
sexually abused as a child this month with the publication of
her memoir "Finding My Voice" - her 10th book in three years.

She said she had only recently spoken to her family about
the assault.

But she said talking about it is "the best thing I've done".

"I feel so privileged that I have this platform, and what is
the point in having this platform if I'm not doing anything with
it?" she said.

Hussain also discussed the challenges of being female in a
culture where boys are more valued.

She said her mother was under enormous pressure to produce a
son and her father, on the day of her birth, shouted "bastard"
when told his child was a girl.

"So often I used to think 'they don't like me because I'm a
girl'... In our society, a girl is a burden," she said.

For her part, she said she decided to raise her two sons and
her daughter differently - "by treating my children exactly the
same".

Hussain said she realized while writing her memoir that she
wanted to talk to her younger self and she hoped sharing her
story of resilience would help other girls to speak up.

She said she wanted other young women who did not feel like
they belonged to follow her mantra: "I'm going to push my elbows
out and I'm going to make space."
(Reporting by Belinda Molly Millar, Editing by Goldsmith
@BeeGoldsmith
Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm
of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and
LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate
change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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