TORONTO – A UK-based charity is advising victims of forced marriages to hide spoons in their underwear before travelling to the airport.
The spoon, or any other metal object, will help set off airport metal detectors. Karma Nirvana says individuals will be taken away for a search, allowing them the opportunity to tell authorities what’s happening to them in private, away from family members.
Forced marriage occurs in cases where one or both people do not consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. In cases of people with learning or physical disabilities, the victims are often unable to disclose their consent.
“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,” charity spokesman Natasha Rattu told AFP.
The charity hopes the airport security trigger will let victims escape a marriage they did not consent to, often with a person they haven’t met in a country they’ve never seen.
“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.”
According to the Forced Marriage Unit in the UK, 1,500 cases of forced marriage—18 per cent of which involved male victims—were reported. One third of the cases are said to involve children under the age of 17.
Forced Marriage Unit says many of the cases of forced marriage involved over 60 different countries across countries across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America last year.
In 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron said “forced marriage is wrong, is illegal and will not be tolerated.”
The act of forcing someone into marriage set to become a criminal offence in England and Wales next year.
In Canada, any marriage conducted without the full and free consent of both parties in not a valid marriage. The Department Justice of Canada says it is difficult to determine the rates of forced marriage in the country as “there is very little information about the extent of the problem in Canada.”
© 2013 Shaw Media