RHODubai Star Chanel Ayan Reveals She Underwent Forced Genital Mutilation At 5 Years Old

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

Chanel Ayan opened up about a painful childhood experience.

During an episode of The Real Housewives of Dubai this week, the 41-year-old reality star attended a hypnotherapy session with her co-star Dr. Sara Al-Madani, where she revealed she and her older sister were circumcised against their will at the ages of five and six respectively. Chanel tearfully recalled that the mutilation occurred when her aunt and grandmother brought her to a random stranger who “sewed” their genitals shut, telling her therapist:

“At 5 years old, my aunt and my grandma came to pick us up to take us to another town. And then the next morning at 6 a.m. 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.”

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While Chanel – who has been open about her traumatic upbringing before – confessed she doesn’t “have a lot of memories because I feel like I block things,” she does remember “the crying, the sadness, the beatings.” She add:

“That’s what I remember. A lot of pain. … We were tied in the legs. Couldn’t pee. Couldn’t move. When we needed to pee, they would carry us and put us on the grass. I just didn’t understand what the hell was going on whatsoever and my mom didn’t know that that was happening to us.”

Before getting married to her husband Christopher, the Bravo personality shared in a confessional that she had her circumcision medically fixed in order to be intimate with someone else:

“I wanted to get married, I had to go back to the doctor and I had to open it again because it was sewn, couldn’t have sex. Then, I had to wait until I healed. I’ve tried to understand and learn about it. Why did that happen? It’s because we need to be virgin when we get married so our families could get our dowry. That’s some f**ked up s**t. It’s like torture. It’s abuse.”

It’s just heartbreaking to think that Chanel had to go through this so young…

Since sharing her trauma with the world, Chanel recounted to People the moment she told Chris about her genital mutilation for the first time back when they were dating and soon realized they had some big cultural differences:

“He’s an American guy, he’s going to college, and I’m a young girl and he wants kiss and stuff. It was very awkward for me to understand. I had to sit him down and talk to him about it. He’s never heard of it. Of course, he was very shocked. He didn’t understand it, but he loved me and just made me feel comfortable about it. I just kept on being around him and being comfortable, and after, [he] just never talked about it.”

Even though Chanel received a positive reaction from Christopher, she still kept her circumcision a secret, including from her husband’s family who only found out because of the show:

“Nobody has ever heard me talk about it. It wasn’t a plan for me to do it. I was so embarrassed my whole entire life. I never slept.”

She was also concerned about what her 16-year-old son Taj might think once the news was out:

“He looks proud of me when I’m talking. He sees I’m saying something amazing that I want to bring awareness into this, but also I’m worried. He’s a kid. Nobody understands this from his generation.”

But that being said, the mom said she is determined to use her voice to advocate for others and bring awareness about this issue – something she said she never would have been able to do without the support of her husband over the years:

“My husband supported me and loved me for who I am. This helped me get to where I am, to be able to open up about being circumcised and raising awareness about this issue.”

Chanel continued:

“Yes, I am a victim, but I have my power now because I talked about it. I feel like saying it [helps me] to get me my power back and confidence that I’ve always lost in it with my body and things like that.”

We applaud Chanel for being so open and honest about such a difficult subject. Her bravely sharing her story will no doubt help many other young women who have experienced similar traumas.

[Image via Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen/YouTube]

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