Swedish women are being advised to put a spoon in their underwear this coming Northern summer, but this is no whacky teenage trend – oh no, this is serious business.
The women being advised to smuggle silverwear are, specifically, those who fear being taken abroad to be forced into an unwanted marriage, or perhaps to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).
Katarina Idegard is the development manager at the Centre for Violence in Close Relations in the city of Gothenburg, where the airport staff have been given instructions on what to do when one of these women comes to their attention.
“The spoon will trigger metal detectors when you go through security checks,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“You will be taken aside and you can then talk to staff in private.”
Basically, as Idegard put it, the spoon “is a last chance to sound the alarm”.
The idea isn’t actually a new one, with British charity Karma Nirvana having pioneered the spoon solution in 2013.
As for why it was receiving a new push at the moment, Idegard explained, “We are doing this now because the risks of forced marriage and FGM increase during the school holidays, especially the long summer break.”
Idegard said that, despite FGM being illegal in Sweden, a study from 2015 found as many as 38,000 girls and women in the Nordic country had likely undergone the procedure.
And while forced marriage doesn’t receive a great deal of media exposure here in Australia, it is still a very real problem.
Forced marriage has been illegal in Australia since 2013, but the Australian Federal Police have received 174 referrals on the issue in the years since it was outlawed.
“The effect on mental health is huge, and it can really shatter someone’s sense of identity and self,” Jenny Stanger, national manager at The Salvation Army Freedom Partnership to End Modern Slavery, told SBS.