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Posted at: Apr 24, 2019, 2:13 PM; last updated: Apr 24, 2019, 8:31 PM (IST)

Indian-origin Canadian leader reveals he was sexually abused as child

Indian-origin Canadian leader reveals he was sexually abused as child
Jagmeet Singh. File photo

Toronto, April 24

Canada’s Indian-origin opposition leader Jagmeet Singh has revealed that he was sexually abused by his taekwondo teacher when he was 10 saying it is one of his regrets in life that he kept quiet about the assault.

The 40-year-old Sikh leader of National Democratic Party in his memoir said the abuse took place in 1980s while he was growing up in Windsor, Ontario, the Global News reported.

Singh created political history in Canada last month when he made his debut in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament, as the first non-white leader of a major opposition party in the country.

In his book, ‘Love and Courage: My Story of Family, Resilience and Overcoming the Unexpected’, he said the instructor who he only refers to as Mr N offered him personal classes at his home dojo. He said his instructor has since died.

“As a kid, I was so embarrassed and ashamed of what happened, I didn’t talk to anyone about it,” Singh told the channel.

“And it wasn’t until almost a decade later that I spoke to another human being about it. The first time I heard the words that it wasn’t my fault was something that just cracked open my heart.”

Singh said he didn’t think the coach was ever charged.

“One of my regrets in my life is I didn’t come forward when he was alive. Maybe I would have been able to give some closure to other folks and maybe prevent something from happening in the future,” he added.

Singh said he hoped his book would help others who had been abused to speak up and realise it’s not their fault.

“A part of writing this book is a way for me to make up for something that I regret that I didn’t come forward (about) and maybe help other people have the courage to come forward if that’s right for them, but most importantly, to have people heal, for them to know it’s not their fault,” he said.

In his memoir, the Sikh leader also wrote about racism and bullying he faced during his childhood.

Singh, who lived in South Windsor from the age of seven to 23, recounted how one boy during recess asked if he was brown because he didn’t shower, and how another boy whispered: “Dirty.” Then he was attacked from behind, he said.

“Suddenly I felt my topknot being pulled and then a hard shove knocking me to the ground almost simultaneously,” he writes.

Singh said his family was torn apart by his father’s alcoholism. After hitting rock bottom, and after unsuccessful stints at some of the best rehab centres in the world, his father’s life was saved at Windsor’s Brentwood Recovery Home.

He was elected in federal by-elections held on February 25. PTI

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