A former star of The Apprentice has claimed she was sexually assaulted by a gang of men in Pakistan while filming a BBC documentary in 2007.
“I was the only woman in this crowd. I was spotted and within minutes a group of men had circled me and hands were all over me while bodies pressed up against mine. I was rescued by our burly ‘fixer’ who carried me out,” Saira Khan said.
Khan, whose parents were raised in Pakistan, further said, “I was shaking and shocked – and I was angry at myself for being so naive after everything I had grown up with.”
The TV presenter said she was surrounded by men who groped and pressed up against her as she tried to shoot the documentary. Khan, who was runner up in the first series of the show, narrated the harrowing experience on ITV’s Loose Women, saying she was eventually rescued by a member of her crew.
“In 2007, I was asked by the BBC to travel to Pakistan and make a documentary. One particular shoot was to take place on the day when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s birthday was celebrated. My all-male British team were nervous because thousands of Pakistani men were to gather in a square and I was to report from the crowd,” she wrote in a column for Mail On Sunday.
“I was determined to do the piece and naively I thought: “Nothing will happen to me, it’s a spiritual day,” she added, referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s birthday celebration.
Continuing her story, she wrote she was dressed very modestly. “I was dressed in the native shalwaar kameez – long baggy trousers and a tunic to cover my body. I wore a scarf around my head to show respect. All that was visible were my hands and face. With much persuasion, my director David allowed me to walk by myself near a crowd of men.”
The TV presenter also accused the BBC of ignoring the attack and the issue that “Asian, Arab and African men grow up in societies where misogyny is the cultural norm”.
“Understanding how African and Asian men view and treat women in their own countries is crucial when dealing with the migrant crisis – because only when we understand their cultural practices can we help them to integrate. They need to understand that women are deemed equal to men in Western societies,” she said.
“Here in the West, we need to stop burying our heads in the sand and accept that Asian, Arab and African men grow up in societies where misogyny is the cultural norm. We need to talk about it so we can change it,” she added.
Khan continued that ignoring this mindset is equivalent to condoning it. “Ignoring it, like the BBC did, is just condoning it. If we are allowing people to come in, we must also make sure that we are not blinded by some truths which are hard to swallow. It is a betrayal of the truth, of the majority of decent migrants and – most of all – of women who must not see progress turned back for the sake of accommodating a medieval world view.”
This article originally appeared on Daily Mail