UK

Spoon In Underwear Helps Prevent Forced Marriages Says Karma Nirvana Charity

16/08/2013 08:12 BST | Updated 15/10/2013 10:12 BST

Teenage girls who are taken abroad to enter into forced marriages are being advised to hide a spoon in their underwear by a UK-based charity.

Karma Nirvana explains the spoon triggers airport metal detectors, leading to the individual to be taken away for a search, thus enabling them to raise the alarm safely and in private.

The Derby charity’s advice comes amid government warnings for teachers, doctors and airport staff to be vigilant about the occurrence.

“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,” charity spokesman Natasha Rattu told the AFP.

She added: “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.”

August is the peak time for young teens in the UK to be forced into marriage during the long summer school break, the government has warned.

The month marks a surge in reports of forced marriage cases, when children and teenagers can be taken on “holiday”, unaware of the real purpose of the trip.

Between June and August last year, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), a joint operation by the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, received more than 400 reports.

Almost half of the 1,485 cases handled by the FMU each year involve Pakistan. It has also assisted in cases linked to a further 60 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.

The statistics for last year show that of the 744 cases where the age was known, more than 600 involved people under the age of 26.

In March it emerged a two-year-old had been at risk of being forced into marriage.

Anup Manota, a project manager at Karma Nirvana told Huff Post UK: "Many of the victims have in fact been promised to someone from birth, or maybe even before birth, with families saying the daughter or son is promised to another family in exchange for business or land. We are finding that is a common occurrence."

A new law making forced marriage illegal is currently going through Parliament and is expected to become law in March next year.

At the moment it is not an specific offence, and police are forced to use charges such as kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, harassment and making threats to kill.

The Forced Marriage Unit has a confidential helpline and can be contacted for advice on 020 7008 0151.