Young victims of forced marriage have a new weapon against those who would sell them into lives of imposed matrimony. It's not a gun in a holster or a sword in a sheath, but a spoon in their underpants!
With the rising trend and trade of youngsters into forced marriages abroad, British authorities are stepping up their efforts to identify potential victims of this ancient practice which is itself akin to slave trade. Airport personnel are receiving special training to spot both traffickers and victims. And non-profit groups are stepping up their effort to help inform and equip victims in methods of intervention and escape.
One group, the Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honor-based abuse, says they advise young people who suspect they are being transported out of the country and into a forced marriage to hide a spoon or other metallic object in their underpants. "When they go though 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," said Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana's operations manager.
Based in Derby, central England, Karma Nirvana reports that it fields 6,500 calls per year from around Britain, but in 2013 year-to-date they have almost already reached that point as awareness of the issue grows. Says Rattu:
When petrified youngsters ring, "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. We've had people ring and 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."
Trapped by cultural and societal pressures, young people are everywhere and everyday being pressured, nay forced, into unhealthy, unsafe, undesirable lifestyles and life choices.
Such pressure is not limited, though, to radical religious or fringe groups. Look around. At every turn young people are being pushed along by the swell of public opinion, peer pressure, and political correctness into an unwitting marriage with worldly, secular thinking.
Let's not make the mistake of assuming that they are all going willingly. Many, if not most, have no idea of the danger they are in. Some even long for a way of escape, but are afraid to buck the system. Like the British airport security personnel, we must be more vigilant to spot both traffickers and victims and step up our efforts to help inform and equip victims in methods of intervention and escape.
We must be ready to really hear their questions, their concerns, and be ready to offer them an alternative--not a spoon in their underwear--but a knowledge of the Savior who longs for them to be His bride.
"…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…" (1 Peter 3:15).
"For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband--Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2, NLT).