'RHODubai' star Chanel Ayan reveals surviving genital mutilation at age 5

Last Modified: 9th Sep

The Real Housewives of Dubai star Chanel Ayan shared her traumatic experience with genital mutilation she faced when she was just a child in hopes of spreading awareness about the tradition.

Ayan, who is of Somali and Ethiopian descent, spoke of how she was forced to undergo the horrific procedure when she was just 5 years old.

Female genital mutilation is a cultural tradition in some rural areas of African countries which is to keep a female a virgin until marriage by sewing up their genitals.

She told E! News, “I'm a survivor. 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 reality star opened up about how her aunt and grandmother took her and her sister to a stranger’s house. A man then painfully "sewed" up their genitals.

Chanel Ayan (Image: Category Portal)

The fashion model further explained, “In my culture, it's done to keep women virgins. 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 continued about the “barbaric” practice and how it is still prevalent, “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." 

Speaking of the pain, trauma, and aftermath of the procedure, the 44-year-old shared, “I think the trauma is something that I will live with for the rest of my life. 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 Ayan further explained how the practice is not talked about openly, “We don't share things like this, it's kind of kept quiet in our families. 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."

"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. It's child abuse. And a lot of girls just die for no reason," Ayan said.

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