Two new web applications have been launched to help prevent people in Wolverhampton becoming the victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

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The "Petals" applications, one for young people and one for professionals, have been developed by Coventry University and are now being rolled out in Wolverhampton.

FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there's no medical reason for this to be done.

It is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse.

The app for young people was initially aimed at girls living in affected communities at risk from FGM, but can also be used as an educational tool to teach any young person or adult the facts and realities of FGM.

It includes a quiz to assess knowledge, an explanation of what FGM is, ways to take action against FGM and details of the support which is available to victims and survivors.

The version for professionals includes more detailed information on prevalence, health implications, survivors' stories, risk factors and legal responsibilities including mandatory reporting duties.

Under The FGM Act 2003, FGM is illegal in England and Wales as is taking abroad British subjects for FGM to be performed.

Anyone who performs or causes to perform FGM can face up to 14 years in prison, and anyone found guilty of failing to protect a girl from FGM can be jailed for up to seven years. However, FGM remains a hidden issue - there have been no successful FGM prosecutions in the UK, and there is little evidence that FGM prevalence is reducing.

All registered health and social care workers and qualified teachers have a duty to report suspected cases of FGM in girls under 18 years, and professional registration can be effected by non compliance with this duty.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "Female Genital Mutilation is illegal and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health.

"I am pleased that we have been able to work with Coventry University to make these new apps available in Wolverhampton, which will raise awareness of FGM amongst children and young people and professionals and help reduce instances of this awful crime."

The Petals apps were launched at a meeting of Wolverhampton Domestic Violence Forum's Executive Board on Tuesday (4 April, 2017) to allow sufficient time to raise awareness of FGM among young people and professionals, in particular in schools, in time for the summer holidays. FGM is most commonly carried out during the summer holidays, as it allows 'healing time' behind closed doors before the victims return to school in September.

The apps are available on the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Board Type=links;Linkid=7041;Title=website;Target=_blank; - and work across most smartphones, tablets and laptops via an internet browser. 

For more information about FGM, please visit Type=links;Linkid=8266;Title=NHS choices - Female genital mutilation (FGM);Target=_blank;.

  • released: Thursday 6 April, 2017