The panellists had been discussing the controversial decision for Bono to be named on Glamour magazine’s annual Women Of The Year list, and more specifically other women would have been more suitable for the title.
This led Saira to talk about Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was gang-raped in her village as a form of revenge for an “inappropriate relationship” her brother had been involved in.
An emotional Saira explained: “It just brings tears to my eyes… they did nothing to the brother, they went straight to her.
“Not only was she raped, she was then walked naked through her village. For most women in that situation in that country, what they’d have done is taken their own life or been killed by their family. She actually then went on to set up a charity in Pakistan to help women like that.”
Speaking about Mukhtar Mai’s ordeal then prompted Saira to speak about sexual abuse that she, too, had been subjected to her in her past.
Fighting back tears, she told the rest of the team: “Reading that story… I’ve never talked about this before and this woman inspired me.
“Because I want any woman out there who’s going through what I went through, at 13-years-old, sitting in my bedroom… a male member of my family, he’s died now, came in, and did things…”
As her co-presenters came to her side, she continued: “And I would never have talked about it, but I just felt I had to because of what’s going on with this woman, and do you know what, she says here, ‘I just want to be a voice for these women who’ve faced circumstances similar to what I did’.
“She just inspired me to talk about something that happened to me, that is wrong. And if any young child or woman is going through something or somebody is touching them, without their permission, inappropriately, please, it is wrong, go and get some help.
“It is not culturally acceptable. It is not religiously acceptable. It is wrong.”
As the studio audience gave a visibly shaking Saira a standing ovation, she concluded: “Reading this woman’s story today just inspired me not to keep [my story] a private thing.”
Since joining the ‘Loose Women’ panel earlier this year, Saira has repeatedly spoken candidly about her personal life, including details about how her Muslim family came to accept her marrying a non-religious white man, and how adopting her daughter ended up saving her life.
Watch Saira’s full interview below:
‘Loose Women’ airs every weekday at 12.30pm.
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