A charity in Derby, England called Karma Nirvana is advising young women to put spoons in their underwear if they fear they are being trafficked from the UK by their parents for forced marriage. The spoons set off the airport metal-detectors and because they trigger the hand-search at a "sensitive area," the women are taken to a private screening room where they can ask the airport security workers for help. This is meant to be high season for forced marriage, as school is still out — so absences aren't missed — and Ramadan is over. UK government ministers estimate that between 1,500 and 5,000 British women are forced into marriage, with more than a third under the age of 16.
Campaigners fear official statistics on the number of forced marriages of UK citizens are just the tip of the iceberg, partly because children do not want to report their parents to the authorities or have little idea where to go for help.
Prem said: "Nobody knows what the true figure is because so many young victims are terrified of coming forward. But it is definitely much, much higher than what is reported."
Freedom Charity has produced an app for potential victims of forced marriage or other abuse. It is also aimed at friends of those women who may be at risk and professionals such as teachers. Since the app was launched in March, more than 1,000 people have contacted Freedom Charity using the technology. The charity also has a 24-hour helpline.
The Karma Nirvana charity usually fields 6,500 calls a year from around Britain. This year, it has already reached that number.
Women who fear being forced to marry abroad told to hide spoon in underwear [Helen Nugent/Guardian]