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08/16/2013

UK charity: Forced marriage fears? Hide a spoon in your underwear

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A U.K. charity says girls have evaded forced marriage by hiding spoons in their underwear. (Photo: REUTERS)

A British charity is advising girls who worry they're being taken abroad to marry against their will to hide a spoon in their underwear at the airport  to trigger security and give them a chance to tell authorities of their fears.

Agence-France Presse reported that Karma Nirvana, which is based in the English city of Derby, had fielded thousands of calls from young people, and that the advice had helped some of their clients.

"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," operations manager Natasha Rattu told the news agency. 

"We've had people ring ... 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 that you have done it. It's a safe way."

Britain has been at the forefront of the fight against forced marriage: A joint Home Office-Foreign Office unit was set up in 2005 and is dedicated to preventing the practice and supporting survivors. Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that forcing a person to marry against their will would become a crime.

Summer is traditionally the most worrying time for those seeking to prevent forced marriages, according to the FCO: "The rise in forced marriage reports during the school holidays is shocking," said crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne. "This is a serious abuse of human rights."

The government said the unit received  more than 400 reports between last June and August. According to AFP, about 1,500 cases overall were handled in 2012. The most common country linked to the investigations was Pakistan; other countries included Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, Somalia, Turkey, and Iraq.

Jennifer Quinn is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter at the Star. As a journalist with the Associated Press, based in London, she wrote extensively about British politics. Follow her on Twitter @JQStar.

Comments

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So.. charity can be for any need! Saving girls from forced marriages is a great idea to fight for the society. I think not only Europe but also Asian countries are suffering from the same situation. Voices have been raised before as well but I guess, improvement is not that specific. Great deeds for charity!

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