‘Real Housewives of Dubai’ Star Chanel Ayan Reveals She Was the Victim of Female Genital Mutilation
Real Housewives of Dubai star Chanel Ayan revealed she was the victim of female genital mutilation as a child.
During a hypnotherapy session aired during this week's episode of the Bravo show, Ayan got emotional and shared that both she and her sister were circumcised as young children.
Content warning below // child abuse, FGM, sexual violence and graphic descriptions
"At 5 years old, my aunt and my grandma came to pick us up to take us to another town," the Kenyan-born model shared, according to People. "And then the next morning at 6AM, I didn't know where I was going whatsoever and then they took us to this man's house and they just tied us on the bed and we were circumcised."
Previously, Ayan had shared that her father abused her growing up.
"I don't have a lot of memories because I feel like I block things," Ayan told the therapist, adding she recalls "the crying, the sadness, the beatings ... a lot of pain" from her childhood.
Ayan also revealed she had the circumcision medically fixed, as her vaginal area was sewn shut, so she could be intimate with her husband Christopher. The pair wed over 20 years ago.
"I couldn't have sex. And then I had to wait until I healed," she shared.
Today, Ayan shared she hoped to bring awareness to the horrors of FGM and to advocate for victims.
"The reason that I'm talking about it is to bring awareness to it and I want people to understand this happens every single day, and if that's my mission, maybe that's what I should be doing," she said.
According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation can cause several health issues, such as: bleeding and problems urinating, severe pain, menstrual problems, cysts, infections, genital tissue swelling, childbirth complications and increased risk of newborn deaths, and death.
More than 200 million girls and women have been the victim of FGM in countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The practice is primarily carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15. FGM has no health benefits.
Many have called on FGM to be considered a crime against humanity.
For more information, visit the WHO website.