By MAMAMIA TEAM
It turns out, the humble teaspoon could save a woman’s life.
Forced marriages – arranged marriages where the participants may be unwilling – are traditional cultural practices most commonly seen in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan.
But the practice is becoming increasingly widespread in the United Kingdom, which is home to a significant population of subcontinent-born migrants.
The British government has even asked airport attendants, teachers, and doctors to be on the look out for young women who seem to be uncomfortable about travelling, or are showing signs that they might be being forced into leaving the country.
Now, a charity called Karma Nirvana has come up with a novel way to help people who might be victims of forced marriages. Given that these forced wedding ceremonies rarely take place within Britain itself, the group is promoting the following message: if you are being forced into marriage, put a spoon in your underwear before you get to the airport.
The explanation for this seemingly bizarre act is pretty simple: The spoon will set off the metal detectors.
And that will give the young women (and sometimes men) a chance to tell the authorities – hopefully – about their situation, when they are taken away from their parents to be checked for the cause of the metal detector alarm.
The manager of Karma Nirvana, Natasha Rattu, say that this is a necessary measure because a victim is often too afraid to stand up publicly to their parents or family. In fact, doing so can lead to emotional or physical abuse. Some cultures still practice honour killings and in one instance a woman told the AFP that her father threatened to murder her, if she attempted to run away from her arranged marriage.
When youngsters ring, if they 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.
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 place where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry.
We’ve had people ring and say that it’s helped them and got them out of a dangerous situation. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do with your family around you – but they won’t be aware you have done it. It’s a safe way.
Shockingly, Karma Nirvana gets approximately 6,500 calls a year from young people who are worried that they will be forced into marriage by their parents and relatives.
Reports indicate that last year Britain’s Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage Unit saw 1,500 cases of forced marriage. More than a third of the cases involved people who were under 16-years-old. Not all victims are young; the oldest was 71-years-old. But the youngest was only two-years-old.