Anti-forced-marriage charity advises women to put spoons in their underwear to trigger private airport search




It looks like somebody may have turned off the heat to the ‘melting pot’ by mistake…


Finally someone uses “security theatre” for good! Yea to the creative people for figuring this out. Now let’s see how long it will take the parent to come up with a counter move. 'I demand that I be in the screening room with my daughter!" and then when they are in there. 'Oh she is just being a silly girl. That is her favorite spoon, she wanted to take it with her on her trip."

Or they will check them before they leave.

But there is a window here. Also this reminds me of a very funny Penn and Teller gag down with a metal detector and ball bearing. very funny. And if you are ever in a situation where you want to force the person who is kidnapping you, you can do this same thing with metal in your underwear! Ta da! Kidnapping foiled.
I love learning stuff like this. It’s better than Burn Notice or White Collar!


I am curious as to just how useful this might be, given how generally brainless the average security theater worker is.


That works in your favor, though. The average security theater guy is stupid and paranoid, seeing criminals behind every innocent word and movement. Actually accusing someone of a crime, out loud, is gonna be like ringing the dinner bell.


You know that in a few weeks, someone’s gonna be kidnapped, whilst complaining loudly, and walked right through airport security without an eyeblink, right?


So, Cory, you mention Ramadan in this article. Just curious, do your sources on this very clever way to avoid women being sent off say what percentage of the women being sent away for forced marriage are Muslim?

Is this a problem with other groups as well in the UK? Glad there is an effort to fight against it, too bad it is so hard to prevent.


The fact that they’re publicizing this solution means there is a period of time in which the girl (notice how it’s never a boy being forced to marry?) is still living her life in a safe country but knows that the clock is ticking on her permanent removal from that life. Imagine the terror and helplessness she must feel. But now, she knows she has a secret weapon she can carry with her.


Has anyone actually told the airport security people they’re supposed to help if they encounter a girl with a spoon in her pants?

The Out-Of-Context Conversation
The Out-Of-Context Conversation

I think that the idea is just to freak out the metal detector, triggering a trip to the private pat-down chamber, where Mom and Dad aren’t, and a bunch of state authority figures are. It would be convenient if they recognized the signal ahead of time; but the point of the exercise is to provide a fairly simple last-ditch mechanism that will get you whisked away from complicit family members by state agents (without involving something that is actually legally dodgy to carry through airport security).


The odd part is that these girls are probably mostly Hindu and Muslim; and yet they named their group “Karma Nirvana,” two Buddhist terms unrelated to marriage. May as well have named it “Crucifixion Easter.”


There are a number of groups that still do this. At a guess, Northern Africa and India are probably the two major destinations where this goes on from England, but most places where you have an uneducated and poor peasant class do it to some extent or another. It is really horrifyingly common around the world. Western nation just happen to see less of it because many immigrants from these poorer nations are educated upper class folks of those nations and so are less inclined. The problem is vastly larger than the paltry number of people that England and western folks see.

Even with education and greater wealth, there is still a cultural hurdle to clear. A friend of mine had his (wealthy) Indian girlfriend leave to go back to India for her arranged marriage after college. She wasn’t marched off at gunpoint, but the threat of being completely cut off from your family both emotionally and financially was threat enough.


I used to teach Hmong students in California and they also had a habit of forcing young people to marry, both genders. I don’t recall them often shipping people back to Laos though; generally they were doing it within the Hmong farm workers right where they lived, and pulling the kids out of school at the old age of 16.

When I tried convincing the kids that maybe they should wait to get married at least until they get out of high school, “its just our tradition, you don’t understand” was the answer I most often heard.


We are looking to make a series of short documentaries with a UK based charity on the subject of forced marriage. In particular, this charity works with people with learning disabilities.

In a first meeting we were told that indeed the majority of reported cases come from the wider Asian community in the UK. People with learning disability or other mental disabilities are often used and abused for marriage arrangements for a) the financial gain of the parties involved b) to give other relatives access to the UK as wife/husband of the victim or c) to elevate the social status of some of the parties involved, as unmarried men and women are seen as not fully matured in these communities, within and outside the UK.

We were also told that airport staff at the major cities in the UK have been made aware of this issue and probably these specific practices to attract attention as a last resort at the airport. You have to bear in mind that when it’s affecting people with disabilities or other difficulties they are very unlikely to communicate their distress to anyone outside their family in public.


If someone being stolen knows about the spoon I think that it’s safe to assume the captor does too.

I don’t see what’s wrong with making a scene and screaming for help if you’re already in a public place full of law enforcement - am I missing something?


Yes. You’re missing that the perpetrators are almost always the victim’s own family. What’s wrong with making a scene is that the victim has been taught her whole life not to do that, and usually has no support network, nowhere to go and nobody to look after her. It takes a lot more courage than most teenagers (or adults) can muster to step off the edge of your entire life into the unknown like that.

And that’s assuming the authorities would help, which sadly is not always the cse.


Well, for one: some people have no problem killing someone - even if they’ll be found out - in order to ‘protect their honour’ ™.

For seconders, we should encourage airport coffee shops to make sure their espresso spoons are metal, and just big enough to trigger the metal detectors…


Makes sense.

Although to the other responder (this crappy discussion platform only sent
me one email response) - if they’re not brave enough to simply reach out
for help normally, how is placing a spoon in ones underpants any different?


What? You want us to simply GIVE terror-spoons to the most vicious terrorists who ever terrorized?


But the spoon can be picked up from the school cafeteria or a local restaurant – yes, I’m advocating minor theft for the greater good – so there wouldn’t be a missing utensil for the family to notice.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. This may not be perfect, but it’s a new lifeline that can work for at least some girls.