Immigrants who arrive in the UK to find a better life and work do not always want to change their traditional ways.  Some of those ways are part and parcel of the immigrants' identities, but some others are barbaric and should be stemmed.

One such practice is forced marriages, or arranged marriages, done when the child is either a minor, or against his/her wishes.  The child is taken abroad with the excuse of the summer holidays and then married in her/his home country, whereby they either never return, and no longer have access to the protection afforded by British law as a minor, or have to wait until they are older before returning or escaping back to Britain.

The British authorities and other human rights groups have come up with a novel trick to help these teens, who are taken away from Britain under the pretense of travel, and who end up being killed at times if they flee or resist their families, be questioned before their departure.

The 'spoon in the underwear' is a device that sets off the metal detector at the airport and therefore allows customs and excise officers to question the child who is departing and stop the illegal union from taking place.

The British organization that came up with the idea, Karma Nirvana charity, instructs those children who call the charity in fear of being taken away to a forced marriage, to hide the implement in their underwear thereby sending a signal to customs that the child is distressed, and allowing the authorities to take custody of the child. 

Karma Nirvana has received more than 6,500 calls just this year, in the first seven months. That's double the rate it used to receive in past years. 

Another tip off sign is a one way ticket for the child, the time of the year, the age and gender and the general affect displayed by the child. 

Many such forced marriages have resulted in suicides, honor killings, terrific abuse and other similar acts.  Considering that the number of calls is probably just a small percentage of the total number of children forced into such unions, and few immigrant communities leaders are willing to take a stand against it, the problem risks becoming a very significant one.  

Many of the children who refuse to enter into such marriages eventually succumb to the will of their parents because they are threatened with their life if they do not obey.  

Many of the children who go on to become married under these forced conditions, do so as unwilling partners.  That translates in a lifetime of rape, essentially, or at least until the woman is able to become free or escapes the union.  

Not all forced marriages involve girls.  almost 18% of all cases involve men.  33% of the cases involve children younger than 17.  The youngest child who was promised into marriage was just 2 years of age. 

The forced marriages involve many countries and ethnicities.  49% to Pakistan, 11% to Bangladesh, 8%to India, 2% Afghanistan, and so forth. 

Source : France 24/ 8.15.13


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