Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options. HOMEPAGE

'Real Housewives of Dubai' star Chanel Ayan reveals she survived genital mutilation as a child

"Real Housewives of Dubai" star Chanel Ayan
Chanel Ayan is a member of "The Real Housewives of Dubai" cast.
Bravo/Getty Images

  • "Real Housewives of Dubai" star Chanel Ayan spoke about her childhood in the most recent episode.
  • Ayan said she survived female genital mutilation when she was five years old.
  • She told Today it was important to share her story to "take her power back." 

"Real Housewives of Dubai" star Chanel Ayan said on Wednesday's episode that she survived genital mutilation as a child. 

According to Today's Mitch Rissmiller, Ayan attempted to address her past with the help of a hypnotherapist because she's "blocked out" a lot of her childhood. Ayan grew up in a small village bordering Kenya and Uganda, according to the outlet.

"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," Ayan, 41, said during the interview. "Then they took us to this man's house and they just tied us on the bed and we were circumcised."

A post shared by A Y A N (@chanelayan)

Ayan continued that her mother didn't know that her daughters had been circumcised, Today reported.

"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 was going on whatsoever and my mom didn't know that that was happening to us," Ayan said.

Ayan added that she had to return to the doctor after getting married because "she couldn't have sex" adding, "then I had to wait until I healed." Today reported that she learned the procedure was done to ensure she remained a virgin until marriage.

During an interview with the outlet, Ayan said she shared her story to bring awareness to the reality for many women. 

A post shared by A Y A N (@chanelayan)

"I don't think our girls should be going through this," she told Today. "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. If I could stop it and if that's my mission, maybe that's what I should be doing."

Ayan added that before filming "The Real Housewives of Dubai," she didn't share her story with many people because she felt "embarrassed" and "very betrayed by (her) culture" – but now she's "taking (her) power back."

According to The World Health Organization, "more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated." It added that an estimated 3 million girls are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation. 

A picture of a switch and lightbulb
Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know.
Subscribe to push notifications
Deal icon An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt.

Keep reading

Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.