COVENTRY has joined the international campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The city council and its partners have joined forces to support the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation yesterday (Sunday, February 6) to protect women affected by this crime.
FGM is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but where there is 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 theme and hashtag for 2022 is ‘Invest Don’t Rest’ and acknowledges global efforts have been made to eliminate FGM but sustaining achievements in the face of humanitarian crises such as Covid-19 has been difficult.
This year’s event raised awareness that if global efforts were not scaled up the number of girls at risk of being subjected to FGM will be higher in 2030 than it is today.
The United Nations Zero Tolerance day aimed to broaden the awareness of FGM and to promote its eradication.
The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown measures and restrictions may have posed extra difficulties and risk of FGM to children and young people, with school closures reducing contact with teachers and health professionals, more families being at home, and restrictions on travel outside of the UK, which may have increased tension.
Staying indoors is even harder for people whose home is not the haven it should be and enforced isolation may increase abusive behaviour, reducing victims’ ability to access help and support.
As part of Coventry’s zero tolerance policy and commitment to eradicate FGM the City Council is continuing to work alongside education partners and health professionals across the city.
The authority is working with Coventry Haven Women’s Aid, Valley House, Panahghar, Coventry University, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and the West Midlands Police.
The organisations strive to change culture, protect girls at risk, support women affected by FGM and communities to oppose the practice, raise awareness and support the law.
Coun Pervez Akhtar, Deputy Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, said: “Female Genital Mutilation is illegal and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long-term problems with sexual relations, childbirth and mental health.
“Coventry will reinforce efforts to tackle this issue. Through partnership work with community organisations we continue to encourage communities to initiate difficult conversations, be more vigilant in identifying FGM and report the practice or concern.”
The Petals 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 is a resource that 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.
All registered health and social care professionals and qualified teachers have a professional duty to report suspected cases of FGM in girls under 18 years, and professional registration can be affected by non-compliance with this duty.
The apps work across most smartphones, tablets and laptops via an internet browser. For more information on FGM and the app visit www.coventry.gov.uk and search for FGM.