RHODubai’s Chanel Ayan Discusses Surviving Forced Genital Mutilation at 5, Opens Up About “Torture and Abuse”

by Adam Ragsdale
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Chanel Ayan Reveals She Survived Genital Mutilation at The Age of 5, Opens up about “Torture and Abuse”

After a recent episode of Real Housewives of Dubai, when Chanel Ayan discussed some of her childhood trauma, the star is now opening up about what happened to her.

The model, who is from Africa, has been praised for her honesty regarding her upbringing. In one of the scenes, Chanel revealed that her sister saved her from being married off as a young girl.

In an interview with E! News, Chanel revealed that she was forced to undergo genital mutilation at the age of five. The star wants to raise awareness about the “torture and abuse.”

Chanel explained that she and her sister endured forced female circumcision in order to be kept virgins until matrimony. The practice continues to occur in several parts of the world.

“I’m a survivor,” said Chanel. “I felt that I was utterly betrayed by my culture and my family. This is just a barbaric practice and it shouldn’t be happening to young girls. It happened to me 35 years ago and I’ve never gotten over it.”

The forced circumcision took place at the house of a stranger, where a man “sewed” up the genitals. Both Chanel and her sister were taken there by her grandmother and aunt.

“In my culture, it’s done to keep women virgins,” said the star. “Everybody’s a virgin in my culture because of this. Because how are you going to have sex when you’re sewn as a girl until you get married? It’s a way to keep men satisfied.”

She added, “This is practiced in over 28 African countries, the Middle East, Syria, Yemen … Even in America, I have cousins and family that still find ways to do it to the young girls behind the scenes, because you don’t need a doctor. You just need someone who knows how to do it.”

The mutilation left Chanel with years-long physical pain as well as emotional trauma.

“I think the trauma is something that I will live with for the rest of my life,” she said. “This is why I want to talk about it, because I honestly don’t want this to happen to anyone because I know exactly how it feels and it’s not good. A lot of girls get depressed, hormones are imbalanced, a lot of young girls die.”

Chanel revealed this is “the first time most of my friends and family will actually see that I’m talking about [it].”

“We don’t share things like this, it’s kind of kept quiet in our families,” she continued. “I just feel like after opening [up about] it, I was taking my power away from the people that did this to me that I trusted the most because I was five years old and I did not know what was happening to me. I didn’t even know what was going on. I just want to bring awareness to it as much as possible because it’s still happening 35 years later. Every 11 minutes it’s happening to some little girl that is as confused as me.”

Chanel shared that she’s starting her own line of makeup, Ayan Beauty, to help raise funds to end the practice.

“As long as I use my platform to bring awareness to stop this—if I can save 20 girls, 100 girls, 500 girls, I feel like that’s the purpose I have,” she said. “It’s child abuse. And a lot of girls just die for no reason.”

Chanel added, “We’re in 2022 and it’s still happening now.”

The Real Housewives of Dubai airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. EST on Bravo.

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