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The Real Housewives of Dubai cast member Chanel Ayan is using her own experiences to bring awareness to an important cause. Ayan first opened up about her childhood and how at the age of 5 she experienced undergoing forced genital mutilation during the August 17 episode of RHODubai, and now she’s using her platform to shed more light on what she calls “a barbaric practice.”
“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,” she said in an interview with E! News this week. “It happened to me 35 years ago and I’ve never gotten over it.”
Ayan, who was born in Kenya and is of Somali and Ethiopian descent, added when speaking to E! News, “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.”
The RHODubai cast member hopes that being open and candid about this chapter in her life will help to create change in the world. She’ll be raising money via her makeup line, Ayan Beauty, to help put an end to the harmful practice. “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,” she added when speaking with E! News. “It’s child abuse. And a lot of girls just die for no reason.”
She shared a similar sentiment during Wednesday’s episode of RHODubai: “I don’t think our girls should be going through this. 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.”
Since sharing her story, Ayan took to Twitter to thank fans for their support. “I would love to thank each and every one for the love and support I have received. I can’t tell you the amount of people who have reached out sharing the same story as me,” she wrote, in part, adding in a separate tweet, “By telling my story and spreading awareness, I have taken my power back and I’m no longer a victim and I want to fight against.”
Fellow RHODubai cast member Lesa Milan also took to Twitter to show her friend support, writing, “[I’m] so proud of [you, Ayan,] for being brave enough to share your story and raise awareness for Female Genital Mutilation. We’ve had many conversations about this over the years [and] I can’t wait for you to be the change and force behind putting an end to this. My SHERO.”
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