Hollywood actor and feminist activist, Ashley Judd, addressed a press conference in New Delhi today, where she recalled her own experience of sexual assault and spoke up on the need to end sexual violence in every part of the world.
“I too am a survivor of gender and sexual violence. The first I remember being molested was at the age of seven. I experienced two rapes at the age of 14 and then once again in 1998.”
Ashley Judd is taking part in the World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls, organised by Apne Aap and the Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (CAP) International. Sixty five speakers are taking part in the 3 day conference, from across 30 countries, the organisers say.
The American actor also talked about trafficking as she spoke at the 'Last Girl Rising' event. She revealed that a majority of the survivors and victims of trafficking in America are Americans themselves and not immigrants and foreigners, as is often believed.
“Folks always want to think (because it is hidden) that human trafficking is this exotic thing that happens only with foreign nationals who are smuggled into the US and get caught into prostitution, for example in the massage parlour business. The majority of victims of human trafficking in the US are Americans. And the average age in the business of prostitution is between 12 and 14,” she said.
She added that she loves her country, but that the US has a long way to go in obtaining full equality for girls and women. She also emphasised ow she gets far more attention than she should, because of her white privilege, and by virtue of her Hollywood celebrity.
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But speaking of Hollywood, the actor also raised the issue of lack pay parity, even in tinsel town.
“The reality is that my lifetime’s earnings are 40% less than what they could have been simply because I am a female."
On a lighter note, she said: “I was chatting with my mom and there was some sort of chatter about what my fancy pearls might cost. And I said, ‘you know what mom, if I experienced paid equality, my pearls would be even more expensive and I would be dripping in diamonds’.”
Ashley came to India a week ago to spread awareness about sexual violence and gender discrimination around the world.
When she is asked for quotes, she says she quotes people like Ruchira Gupta, founder of the NGO Apne Aap, or a sister from the Nath community pointing towards Fatima Khatoon and also tribal activist Soni Sori.
"When I am struggling with what to say and am looking for appropriate words, I reach for the book written by Grizelda Grootboom, who is a survivor of prostitution from South Africa," the actor added.