Why one school is giving pupils spoons to prevent forced marriage

UK

Pupils at a Leeds school who fear they may be taken abroad for forced marriages have been given spoons to hide in their underwear to trigger airport metal detectors.

Students at The Co-operative Academy have been handed the cutlery which staff say will literally raise the alarm, allowing youngsters to privately alert security staff.

Harinder Kaur, from the school, said the spoons can “save lives”.

She told the BBC: “In the six-week 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 there is a safety net there.”

The spoon giveaway was part of a series of events designed to raise awareness about so-called honour-based abuse and forced marriages.

The school, in the inner-city Harehills district, has worked with the charity Karma Nirvana, which aims to educate young people about such risks. The charity says it took 9,000 calls on its forced marriage helpline last year, with 200 of them from children aged 15 or under.

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When The Independent called the school to ask how parents felt about the scheme, it refused to comment. A spokeswoman said: “We are putting this to bed and not talking about it anymore.”

A law making it a criminal offence to force people into marriage came into effect in June 2014.

Parents who force their children to marry can be punished by up to seven years in prison.

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