Tuesday May 22, 2018
By Emma Batha
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Swedish city is advising
girls who fear being taken abroad for forced marriage or female genital
mutilation (FGM) to tuck a spoon in their underwear before going through
Airport staff in Gothenburg have been told how
to respond in such circumstances, said Katarina Idegard, who is in
charge of tackling honor-based violence in Sweden’s second biggest city.
“The spoon will trigger metal detectors when you go through
security checks,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “You will be
taken aside and you can then talk to staff in private.”
“It is a last chance to sound the alarm,” Idegard added.
is no data on the number of girls taken abroad for forced marriage, but
Idegard said a national hotline received 139 calls last year about
child marriage or forced marriage. Activists will encourage other cities to follow Gothenburg’s lead and adopt the spoon initiative to protect girls, she added.
idea comes from British charity Karma Nirvana, which said the tactic
had already saved a number of girls in Britain from forced marriage.
charity said hiding a spoon in their underwear was a safe way for girls
to alert the authorities, which was often difficult if they were
constantly surrounded by family.
Idegard said the advice on hiding a spoon was part of a wider campaign
to tackle honor-based violence in Gothenburg, which has a population of 1
Schools and social workers have been asked to be
extra vigilant in the run-up to the summer holidays when girls from
diaspora communities are more likely to be taken abroad.
doing this now because the risks of forced marriage and FGM increase
during the school holidays, especially the long summer break,” said
Forced marriage and FGM are illegal in Sweden, even if carried out abroad, and punishable by prison terms.
2016, a father was convicted of forcing his daughter to marry against
her will after tricking her into making a trip to Afghanistan.
another case in 2014, a 14-year-old girl whose father had taken her to
Ethiopia to marry an older cousin was rescued after asking a school
counselor for help via Facebook.
Idegard said a 2015 study found
up to 38,000 girls and women living in Sweden may have undergone FGM -
with victims including women born in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt