Women’s rights charities in the UK are warning women and girls who are being trafficked into forced marriages to hide spoons inside their underwear at airports to set off metal detectors. The Guardian UK reported that when women have done this, they have been taken aside by airport security for further questioning and have been able to seek help from authorities.
“If [women and girl] don’t know exactly when it may happen or if it’s going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,” said Natasha Rattu, who runs the UK charity Karma Nirvana. “When they go through security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry.”
Young women and girls who are vulnerable to forced marriage are particularly at risk on vacation, especially during the summer. The Guardian reported that double the number of forced marriages occur during summer vacation than any other time of year. Often young women are taken abroad for a visit with relatives and then learn they are being forced, through threats of physical abuse or bringing dishonor to the family, to marry an older male relative without their consent. (An arranged marriage is different than a forced marriage, as the marriage is ultimately done with the bride and groom’s consent.) Said Aneeta Prem, who runs the UK charity Freedom Charity, “The victim may think they are going away to a family wedding, not knowing it is actually their wedding. And when they go they are often gone for a long time and don’t come back until they are pregnant.”
Charities are also warning teachers to be aware of young women who are vulnerable to forced marriages. As Karma Nirvana’s web ite notes, it is far more difficult to help a young woman from being forced into marriage when she has already been taken abroad, as oftentimes these girls have their passports taken from them. You can learn more about Freedom Charity and Karma Nirvana, who also work with potential victims of so-called “honor” killings, here.
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[Image of a spoon via Shutterstock]