Sweden introduces new 'code' for girls at risk of FGM
Girls passing through the Swedish city of Gothenburg are being given advice on how to raise the alarm when they are at risk of being forced into marriage or subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).
Girls passing through the Swedish city of Gothenburg are being given advice on how to raise the alarm when they are at risk of being forced into marriage or subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). The city, which is the second-largest in Sweden, is adopting a concept developed by the British charity Karma Nirvana, which encourages girls who fear being taken abroad for illegal purposes to tuck a spoon into their underwear before going through airport security. This will result in a security alert that will give airport staff - who are being specifically trained on how to respond in such circumstances - the chance to intervene. Katarina Idegard, who has been tasked with tackling honour-based violence in Gothenburg, explained: "The spoon will trigger metal detectors when you go through security checks; you will be taken aside and you can then talk to staff in private. It is a last chance to sound the alarm." She added:
"We are doing this now because the risks of forced marriage and FGM increase during the school holidays, especially the long summer break".
Karma Nirvana's data suggests the tactic has already saved a number of girls in Britain from forced marriage, as hiding a spoon inside underwear can be a safe way for girls to alert the authorities, which would otherwise be difficult when they are constantly surrounded by family.
Ms Idegard cited a 2015 study showing that up to 38,000 girls and women living in Sweden may have undergone FGM as evidence that action needs to be taken. Forced marriage and FGM are both illegal in Sweden, even if carried out abroad, and can result in prison sentences; nevertheless, it is not currently known how many girls are taken abroad to be forced into marriage. The new advice comes as part of a wider campaign to tackle honour-based violence in Gothenburg, with schools and social workers also asked to be vigilant about potential risks.