The Swedish city of Gothenburg is advising girls who fear they may forced to go abroad for forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM) to put a spoon into their underwear before going through airport security. With the spoon setting off the metal detectors, staff at the cities airport have been advised how to respond in such circumstances. Katarina Idegard, who is in charge of tackling honour-based violence in Sweden’s second biggest city told the Thomson Reuters Foundation; “The spoon will trigger metal detectors when you go through security checks. 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.
Activists are hoping other airports and cities will follow Gothenburg’s lead and adopt the spoon initiative to protect girls. The idea comes from UK charity Karma Nirvana, which said the tactic had already saved a number of girls in Britain from forced marriage abroad.
The 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.
Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana's operations manager, in the Guardian states their advice when worried youngsters ring the charity's helpline, "if they don't know exactly when it may happen or if it's going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear. 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.”
Alicia Kozakiewicz, a survivor of human trafficking and founder of the Alicia Project, tells her story and relays how crucial it is that employees on the frontline of this crime are trained to recognize and report it. The Alicia Project supports the Association of Flight Attendants' call on Congress to mandate
Stop the Traffik, a charity that raises awareness about this issues, points to a number of signs that are common across all types of exploitation. Including, if a person:
- acts as if instructed by another, as though they are forced or coerced to carry out specific activities
- demonstrates signs of physical or psychological abuse, such as lacking self esteem, seeming anxious, bruising or untreated medical conditions
- seems to be bonded by debt or has money deducted from their salary
- has little or no contact with family or loved ones
- is distrustful of authorities
- has threats made against themselves or family members
- is not in possession of their own legal documents
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