Evil of forced marriages

A charity advises women and young girls to set off airport metal detectors to give them more time to seek help from the authorities

A number of women and girls in the U.K. at risk of forced marriage have avoided going abroad by concealing spoons in their underwear at airport security, according to a campaign group.

Karma Nirvana, a Derby-based charity that supports victims of forced marriage, advises people who ring its helpline to hide a spoon in order to set off metal detectors at British airports. The group says its advice has prevented some women from being spirited overseas.

Last week Ministers warned that young people were at the highest risk of being taken abroad for a forced marriage during the school holidays. The government’s forced marriage unit received 400 reports between June and August last year, out of an annual total of 1,500.

No one knows for sure how many Britons are forced into marriage each year. Estimates range from 1,500 to 5,000. More than a third of those affected are thought to be aged under 16.

Speaking to the AFP news agency, Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana’s operations manager, said that 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.” The government wants teachers, doctors and airport staff to be conscious of the issue of forced marriages over the summer break.

Campaigners fear official statistics on the number of forced marriages of U.K. citizens are just the tip of the iceberg, partly because children do not want to report their parents to the authorities or have little idea where to go for help.

Aneeta Prem, founder and president of Freedom Charity, said: “Nobody knows what the true figure is because so many young victims are terrified of coming forward. But it is definitely much, much higher than what is reported.”

Freedom Charity has produced an app for potential victims of forced marriage or other abuse. It is also aimed at friends of those women who may be at risk and professionals such as teachers. Since the app was launched in March, more than 1,000 people have contacted Freedom Charity using the technology.

The Karma Nirvana charity usually fields 6,500 calls a year from around Britain. This year, it has already reached that number.

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Success Story of August: A colony to stare at

Visitors to Gurunanak Colony are welcomed by tidy roads, greenery, and serenity

Many new colonies have come up on the Ring Road in the city, but Gurunanak Colony has crated a niche for itself. There is no name for the road from Ramesh Hospital junction to Autonagar, but people tend to call it Gurunanak Road.

A Gurudwara at the very entrance of the colony provides a pleasant ambience. The neat and tidy roads, greenery, and serenity not only enthral the visitors but also evoke a thought that they too should have a house in a colony like this.

Eye-catching

The humble Punjabis don’t claim credit for the eye-catching development. Despite being one of the posh areas of the city, strikingly, it doesn’t have a private security.

“Development is possible just because of the cooperation from the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), the police, and the State government. We would not have achieved it had there been no cooperation from officials. The colony doesn’t require any security, as the police vigil is enough,” the residents say.

Gurudwara president Kanwaljit Singh recalls that the residents’ welfare society has earmarked half-acre for a swimming pool, which is presently maintained by the VMC. They have plans to develop it further and bring it under society management.

With a vision

The society also has plans to prohibit smoking in the colony, he says. The foundation for the colony was laid way back in 1980s. Sikh leaders had a vision that every member of the community in the city should have a roof over their head. The leaders, however, were not narrow in their plans. They provided an opportunity for others too such as Sindhis and Marwaris. Their broadmindedness was not limited to it. They even earmarked a place for construction of a temple in the colony.

While the Gurudwara situated at the entrance welcomes the visitors, the Ramalayam at the other end of the road marks the boundary of the colony. There are 65 plots in the colony and, barring a few open plots, most of them have dazzling houses.