Speaking her truth. The real housewives of Dubai star Chanel Ayaan shared her experience of undergoing forced generational mutilation at age five in Africa.
“I’m a survivor,” Chanel, 44, told AND! news after opening up about her experiences on Wednesday, August 17, episode of the reality show. “I felt completely betrayed by my culture and my family. This is simply a barbaric practice and it should not be happening to young girls. It happened to me 35 years ago and I never got over it.”
The Bravo star, who is of both Ethiopian and Somali descent, went on to explain that both she and her sister were circumcised against their will to ensure they would remain virgins until marriage. According to Chanel, the mutilation took place when her aunt and grandmother took her to a stranger who then “sew” their genitals.
“This is practiced in more than 28 African countries, the Middle East, Syria, Yemen,” she told e! on Wednesday. “Even in America I have cousins who 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.”
She added: “In my culture, it’s done to keep women virgins. Everyone is a virgin in my culture because of this. Because how are you going to have sex if you’re screwed as a girl until you get married? It’s a way to keep men happy.”
While the Kenyan-born model admitted that the “trauma” of the experience is something that “will stay with me for the rest of my life,” she also acknowledges the importance of shedding light on the situation. “A lot of girls get depressed, hormones are out of balance, a lot of young girls die,” she explains.
Chanel has spoken out in the past about her shocking upbringing, including the fact that her father abused her. On Wednesday’s episode RHOdubaithe entrepreneur further opened up to a therapist during a hypnotherapy session.
“The crying, the grief, the beatings. That’s what I remember. A lot of pain,” Chanel said as she fought back the tears. “We were tied in the legs. Couldn’t pee. Couldn’t move. When we had to pee, they carried us and put us on the grass. I just didn’t understand what the hell was going on and my mom didn’t know that was happening to us.”
After the therapy, the actress shared that she “felt light” and ready to move on with those who wronged her in the past.
“For the first time in my life, I chose to forgive them and accept what happened to me,” she said. “I still have a lot of life and I still have a lot of love to give myself.”
In June, the TV personality spoke exclusively Us Weekly about the “private” life she has built for herself and her hope that viewers will get to know her over time.
“I have been married for 23 years and very close friends of mine know my husband. I am very, very private, even when it comes to my child and I believe that when you love someone and you care about them, there is mutual respect, but that’s me, I’m talking about my experience and my lifestyle,” she explained yous. “I just want people to see that I’m a good mother and that’s my pride and joy.”