A secondary school has been encouraging students to hide spoons in their underwear if they are threatened with an arranged marriage.

The Co-operative Academy of Leeds has been working with the Karma Nirvana, a charity which offers a telephone helpline for potential victims and training to schools and professionals.

Students were given spoons in educational sessions at the school, and were told to conceal the cutlery if they feared they were being taken overseas to be married.

The spoons would trigger metal detectors meaning the child would be taken to one side to be searched away from their parent or guardian.

This would allow the youngster to tell airport staff that they were being forced into a marriage.

Will Bose, vice chairman of Karma Nirvana, says the charity’s helpline has taken nearly 70,000 calls since it started 25 years ago – that’s an average seven calls a day.

The charity has been working with the Co-operative Academy for about five years.

Mr Bose said: “They set the example, they are a shining example of how schools should be dealing with this issue of honour-based marriage.

“They engage with the pupils and help to educate them about to be aware of this problem and how to get help if they are affected.

“We regularly go in and give presentations.

The children were told the cutlery will set off metal detectors
Image:
The pupils were told the cutlery will set off metal detectors. Pic: Co-operative Academy of Leeds

“We will give one to roughly 320 students in the auditorium, and then across the next couple of days give two more to around the same amount.

“So by that time we have shared the information with more than 1,000 students.”

Sky News has contacted Leeds Co-operative to ask about their involvement in the work.

They are one of many schools that Karma Nirvana works with nationwide, and their headteacher is a patron of the charity.

Arranged marriages involving students tend to take place in the summer holidays when schools don’t have as much, if any, contact with pupils.

Mr Bose said Karma Nirvana started working with a specific project in schools in 2014, but prior to this they ran ad hoc workshops.

They first gave out the spoons advice in 2011 when a girl called from a major UK airport.

She told the operator she was going to be taken to Pakistan to be forced into a marriage.

The helpline worker then told her to go to a restaurant and find a spoon that would set off the airport metal detectors.

Government figures show that the Home Office’s forced marriage unit gave advice and support in relation to 1,195 possible forced marriages in 2017.

Of those cases, 355 involved victims below the age of 18, while 353 cases were linked to victims aged between 18 and 25.

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The unit has dealt with between 1,200 and 1,400 cases each year since 2012.

A law making forced marriages a criminal offence came into effect in 2014, and parents who force their children into one can be jailed for up to seven years.