School fights forced mar­riage by giv­ing girls spoons – so they can set off metal de­tec­tors at air­port

Daily Mail - - Comment - By Sarah Har­ris

A SCHOOL is at­tempt­ing to tackle forced mar­riages by giv­ing pupils spoons to put in their un­der­wear to trig­ger air­port metal de­tec­tors.

Girls at­tend­ing the Co- op­er­a­tive Academy of Leeds have been urged to hide the cut­lery if they fear they are be­ing taken over­seas to be wed.

The spoons will set off the de­tec­tors, al­low­ing stu­dents to raise the alarm with air­port se­cu­rity staff pri­vately.

Harinder Kaur, the so­cial, cul­ture and ethos leader at the academy, said the spoons can ‘save lives’. Eighty per cent of UK forced mar­riages hap­pen dur­ing the sum­mer hol­i­days, mak­ing it peak time for par­ents to take daugh­ters abroad to be mar­ried.

Miss Kaur told the Guardian: ‘In the six-weeks hol­i­days we know there is no con­tact between school and the fam­ily and fam­i­lies have that op­por­tu­nity to go abroad, get their child mar­ried and come back.

‘ It’s a way of mak­ing our chil­dren aware that there is a safety net there.

‘As ed­u­ca­tors, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to em­power chil­dren with the knowl­edge and abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence to their own lives and the lives of oth­ers.

She added: ‘The spoon in your un­der­wear is a sim­ple way of let­ting the au­thor­i­ties know if you think you are in dan­ger.’

The academy, an in­ner-city sec­ondary school, is work­ing with the char­ity Karma Nir­vana, which cam­paigns against ‘hon­our’-based abuse and forced mar­riage. It says it re­ceives 22 re­ports a week from young peo­ple un­der the age of 17 about these types of abuse.

Natasha Rattu, the head of learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment at Karma Nir­vana, said girls were of­ten con­di­tioned from a very young age to con­sider forced mar­riages to be nor­mal. The char­ity’s helpline peaks over the sum­mer pe­riod.

Ms Rattu said: ‘The sum­mer hol­i­day is the ideal time for par­ents who want to take their child abroad to be mar­ried be­cause the school won’t be look­ing for where they are.’

The spoon method has been used suc­cess­fully in the past and helps raise aware­ness in young peo­ple who might not re­alise they are vic­tims of the abuse them­selves, she added.

In 2011, a 16-year-old Mus­lim girl called the char­ity and told them that she was trav­el­ling to Pak­istan with her fam­ily.

The call han­dler be­came wor­ried af­ter hear­ing she would be chap­er­oned ev­ery­where by her broth­ers and ad­vised the teenager to put a spoon in her un­der­wear.

At the air­port, the girl’s broth­ers told her that she was go­ing be mar­ried due to her ‘shame­ful be­hav­iour’ – but she was saved by the spoon set­ting off a metal de­tec­tor.

Forced mar­riage is recog­nised as a form of mod­ern slav­ery.

In June 2014, a law came into ef­fect mak­ing it a crim­i­nal of­fence to force peo­ple into mar­riage. It is pun­ish­able by up to seven years in prison.

‘A form of mod­ern slav­ery’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.