New Delhi: Hollywood actor Ashley Judd's visits to brothels in India and her interaction there with young prostitutes, some just in their teens, left her deeply disturbed. She says she would sob at night in her hotel room after such visits.
The award-winning "Double Jeopardy" actor, while speaking to young students on NDTV 24x7's "India Questions" show, also described how her very tough childhood had evoked in her a passion to work for the AIDS affected.
Judd, who visited brothels in India as part of NGO Population Services International, helped in educating sex workers about HIV/AIDS.
In the interview, to be telecast 9.30 p.m. Saturday, she said: "In terms of my personal responses to seeing the vulnerability of girls and women in India, it's been so hard, it's been so hard. You know, one girl or woman, one boy or man, abused and mistreated to me is the whole world being abused and mistreated. And I have gone to my hotel room at night and I have cried and cried and cried."
Judd told NDTV's Prannoy Roy that she prefers fighting for women who are sexually exploited to being a celebrity. "I much prefer in fact the Human Rights work that I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to do, and who could have possibly guessed that Hollywood for me would be my entry into the slums and brothels."
The actor attributes her sensitivity to the pain of the prostitutes she met to her own childhood, which she said was marked by abuse, poverty, and a severely dysfunctional family.
"I was physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually abused, and as a result I was a very damaged, wounded person... I had a lot of rage. I was a rager as child; I was a rager as an adult. And you know, it's enraging to be abused and to try to tell people, 'hello this is happening' and no one listens.
"I was a very damaged, wounded person... I know that I was drawn to this work partially because, although these circumstances were different, I identified with what I saw people going through," she said.
Judd says that after moving around between 13 different schools, her first experience with stability was her admission into a university in Kentucky, where she majored in Women's Studies, a course that she says spiritually awakened her.
After much therapy and because of her work among women and children, Judd said she has been able to make peace with her past.
"And so now I can truly say that I am so grateful that all those things happened to me. Were they right? Absolutely not... Should a child go through that? Of course not... But am glad I did. Because it has helped my spirit become... the spirit that brought me here to India to work with dis-empowered girls and women."