- Derek O'Brien said he was sexually molested as a 13-year-old on a bus
- He admitted that it took him many years to talk about the incident
- He urged other lawmakers to speak up about sexual assault or harassment
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien on Wednesday shared that he was sexually abused as a teenager and urged people to talk about such experiences instead of repressing them, as he participated in a debate in parliament on a law on sexual crimes against children. Union Minister Smriti Irani was among the members who praised his courage to talk about the horror.
Derek O'Brien, 58, backed the proposed amendments to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO Amendment) bill to include death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children.
"It's very clear where the abuse starts, it starts at home. People, especially in public life, need to talk about this and start the conversation. The more people in public life that speak about the abuse the easier it will be for children to speak up," he said in the Rajya Sabha.
"That's what I want to speak about sir, with a lot of pride, and sadness and hurt, I would like to share -- my family knows and I feel India needs to know -- I was sexually molested as a 13-year-old on a bus in Kolkata after tennis practice wearing short pants and t-shirt, I got on to a crowded bus, I was sexually molested. A man ejaculated on the shorts of this boy. I didn't speak about it. We need to use this forum to reach out to people. The more we talk about it the more children will be saved," the parliamentarian said.
It was not about the punishment, but about the prevention, he remarked, and talking about it would help.
He admitted that it took him many years to talk about the incident and urged other lawmakers to speak up about sexual assault or harassment.
Smriti Irani, the Minister for Women and Child Development, began her reply to the debate by applauding Mr O'Brien.
"That fact that an MP today shared what he faced at age 13...46 years later, tells us what an imprint sexual abuse leaves on a child," the minister said.