RESEARCHERS at Coventry University are joining the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as they prepare to unveil a new app this week.
Developed jointly by the University’s Centre for Communities and Social Justice (CCSJ) and Centre for Excellence in Learning Enhancement (CELE), researchers will launch the free app called ‘Petals’ on Wednesday, July 8 in a bid to help educate and protect girls and young women affected by the practice.
The app, the first of its kind to be developed in the UK will work across most mobile devices, tablets and laptops and includes information about FGM, personal stories from those who have been affected, links to educational films, a quiz and tips on how to get involved in campaigning to end the practice.
Petals also provides details of where those affected or at risk can go to get help and advice and it enables users to access the NSPCC’s National FGM Helpline at the touch of a button.
While the app is primarily aimed at young girls living in affected communities and at risk from FGM, developers believe it can also be used as an educational tool to teach young people and others the facts and realities of FGM.
The practice, also referred to as female genital cutting, female circumcision or sunna refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
And, while it has been illegal in the UK since 1985, it is a growing problem across the country – with Coventry City Council being the first and only local government authority in the country to official condemn the practice and take an integrated approach to tackle it.
With the school summer holidays approaching, the app’s launch is timely with – as over the summer months there is a greater risk of girls being sent to their heritage countries for the procedure to be carried out or cut here in the UK.
Out of contact from their teachers and classmates for several weeks, by the time they return to school the outward signs that they have suffered FGM may be less apparent.
Speaking about the importance of the project, international leading authority on FGM, Professor Hazel Barrett from Coventry University’s Centre for Communities and Social Justice, said: “It’s an unpleasant reality that FGM is being carried out in the UK and we have to tackle this problem head on.
“Education and prevention are the best long-term ways of combatting the practice so we’re pleased to have developed this new app, which we believe has the potential to help girls and women within the region and across the country who are under the threat of, or living with the consequences of FGM.”
The app is being unveiled on Wednesday, July 8 in a special launch event at Council House in front of City Councillors, local aid groups, schools, charities and other key stakeholders.
The Petals app is available to download for free at http://petals.coventry.ac.uk.