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15 Common Things That Can Put You Behind Bars In Foreign Countries

15 Common Things That Can Put You Behind Bars In Foreign Countries


“When in Rome, do as the romans do.”

This popular saying is applicable to everyone. But if “rules are made to be broken” is your life’s mantra, then think again because now you’re going to read about some of the craziest, strangest and weirdest laws around the world. And if you don’t abide by these laws, that life mantra is going to put you behind bars.

In your country, you may be a free bird, but do not expect the same when you land in any of these places. The activities that appear to be very common in your country can turn out to be illegal here.

The peculiar laws will leave you wondering and you’ll wonder why such odd laws really exist in first place. You may have heard about some common stupid rules such not being allowed to go out without wearing underwear in Thailand, or not being able to name a pig Napoleon in France, but here you’ll find some of the laws that can get you imprisoned by just doing some everyday life activities.

No matter where you come from, you can’t neglect these laws. So, be ready to explore some of the craziest things lawmakers of different regions around the world have imposed on their citizens. These laws will surely give you some light entertainment, but make sure you remember them when visiting any of these countries.

Check out these activities listed here and you’ll realize that you should not be sitting here surfing the internet, as according to these laws, the ideal place for you is a prison.

15. Homosexuality – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Mauritania, Qatar, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and the UAE


Homosexuality in the United States of America is not at all strange and homosexuals have their own legal rights. It’s pretty good, right? But do not expect the same love for homosexuals in every country. Some places have decided to award death penalty for homosexuals.

In the places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, Mauritania, Qatar, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates, homosexuality is illegal. These countries believe that being homosexual is against the religious beliefs of people.

As these nations follow Sharia law that upholds the Quran, homosexuality is a sin and killing homosexuals is the only solution according to them.

There are some countries where they won’t kill you for being homosexual, but if you are one, you cannot expect any legal protection for the relationship. Additionally, your chances of receiving your marriage certificate in these countries are nil.

14. Living Together Before Marriage – United Arab Emirates


Live-in relationships are common these days. But wait, the United Arab Emirates is not at all a safe place for unmarried couples living together. The country has a strict law to prevent people from living together before getting married.

If you do so, you can expect police to come knocking on your door and put you behind bars. And if you are thinking that you can stay with your partner in a hotel, then don’t do that unless you carry a marriage certificate with you.

According to Article 356 of UAE Penal Code, special punishments await those who share a room with a person of the opposite sex. So if you have relocated to the UAE or are planning a holiday, keep Article 356 in mind because you will not be allowed to stay like that.

13. Kissing In Public – Qatar, the UAE, Pakistan, Iran and Oman


Those passionate kisses in the rain look so amazing in movies. But kissing in public places can put you behind bars, more specifically if you are in Qatar, the UAE, Pakistan, Iran or Oman. Kissing in public is a crime and is considered as a socially unacceptable behavior. In fact, these countries even have special regulations for public displays of affection.

Similarly, if you are at the University of Zimbabwe, kissing in public can get you in trouble. The conservative beliefs in Thailand do not accept kissing in public as common behavior. Yes, you can hold hands in public, but you can’t kiss.

Being the world’s largest democracy, India also has some strange rules. According to the Indian Penal Code, Section 294, anyone involved in “any obscene act in any public place” shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or a fine, or  both. However, the country doesn’t have any specific definition of obscenity and it doesn’t specifically point to kissing as obscene. But, it’s better to stay safe than get caught for kissing in public.

12. Wearing Short Clothes – Saudi Arabia


Almost every single country in the world blames Western culture for introducing short apparel to the modern world. Not sure how the ancestors would have managed when clothes didn’t exist, but anyway… If you are in Saudi Arabia, and more specifically if you are a woman, you are bound to wear an Abaya, a long black dress that covers the body, hands and face. Wearing a niqab (a full-face veil) is also mandatory.

No matter where you come from, when you land in Saudi Arabia, you must follow these rules. In 2009, the Saudi government arrested 67 men at a party for wearing socially unaccepted clothes. A young woman was also arrested for wearing a jacket in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi, there is a religious police organization called the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Authority that ensures no one is breaking the dress code. In 2014, an incident took place in Sudan in which few women faced 40 lashes for wearing western clothes. In Uganda too women are not allowed to wear short skirts. So if you love your shorts, better skip Saudi Arabia or simply remove it from your bucket list.

11. Eating Pork – Iran, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan and the Maldives


A majority of Islamic countries have banned pork since the Holy Quran forbids its consumption. You must respect the Islamic dietary laws when you are in Iran, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan and the Maldives.

“He has forbidden you only dead animals, and blood, and the swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for other than God,” says the Quran. So when you are in an Islamic nation, forget chops and meatballs if you really want to stay away from any danger. In several countries with a high Muslim population, pork is not at all prohibited. So you’re better off visiting Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan, Albania, Syria or the UAE.

10. Killing Cow and Eating The Meat – Nepal


Cow is the national animal of Nepal and the country has implemented a law to prevent cow slaughter. More than 80% of Nepal’s population is following Hinduism that considers cow a sacred animal. The newly formed constitution has a special provision to safeguard cows in Nepal.

A court in Nepal has sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for killing a cow. A couple of years ago, Nepal’s court sentenced a woman to 12 years in prison for killing a cow. An Indian state called Gujarat has decided to give life imprisonment to those who slaughter cows. Transporting beef is also a punishable offense. Offenders may have to pay a penalty of INR 50,000 (around US$771) to INR 1,00,000. Other Indian states also have strict laws to protect cows and if people find someone eating beef they voluntarily inform the police.

9. Having Buddha Tattoo – Sri Lanka


Flaunting your tattoo can land you in trouble if you are in Sri Lanka. It doesn’t mean that if you have a tattoo, you can’t visit this pearl of the Indian Ocean, but make sure you do not have a tattoo featuring Buddha on your body.

Reports of many foreigners being caught are common. A British woman with Buddha tattoo on her arm was arrested last year. In a similar case, some tourists had to face deportation in 2016 due to the same.

The authority considers such tattoos an insult to Buddhism, the religion followed by the majority of Srilanka’s population. In India also, a similar incident took place in 2015 when an Australian tourist had to write an apology letter due to the tattoo of a goddess on his shin.

Popular singer Erykah Badu was banned from entering Malaysia because she flaunted the word “Allah” tattooed on her upper body. Japan, Turkey, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia  also have strict rules for tattoo fans. So make sure you comply with the rules before you land there.

8. Not Carrying A Passport – Japan, China and Russia


Carrying a passport is a common practice and is mandatory if you’re going to another country. In Japan, foreigners must carry their passport whenever they step out. You may have to spend 23 days in jail for breaking this rule. There will be 3 days initial interrogation and it can be extended upon the judgment.

When you are traveling to China, you must carry a copy of your passport, you have to follow the same rule in Russia too. Police can stop foreigners anytime and ask for the passport. If foreigners do not have the passport, they will be put behind the bars! So, take care of your passport while roaming across these countries. Losing the passport will cost you an arm and a leg!

7. Consuming Alcohol – UAE, Sudan, Somalia and India


Consuming alcohol is a part of the culture in the western countries. But in the Middle East, several taboos are associated with alcohol consumption. In Sharjah, a city in the UAE, only those who have a valid license can consume alcohol.

In Sudan, the Government has passed The Liquor Prohibition Bill in 1983. Non-Muslims can consume alcohol only at their residence. In Kuwait, no one is allowed to consume alcohol in public places.

Non-Muslims can buy 5 bottles of liquor and 100 bottles of beer every month in Pakistan. Alcohol consumption and trade is completely banned in Somalia. In India, a few states like Gujarat, Nagaland and Bihar have banned alcohol sale and consumption. Avoiding these laws can put you behind the bars and in some places, you may have to face the penalty.

6. Sex Outside Marriage – Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and the Philippines


Usually, in the western world, people file for divorce if they find that their spouse is having extramarital affairs. But in Saudi Arabia, flogging is the punishment for having sex outside marriage. Iran’s Constitution has considered an extramarital affair as a serious offense. The Iranian Penal Code has fixed 100 strokes of the lash for unmarried male and female offenders who are caught in such acts.

A woman was stoned to death for having an extramarital affair in Iran. In India, one can be sentenced up to five years for adultery. Revised Penal Code of the Philippines has introduced strict punishment for those who commit adultery as well.

5. Dancing – Kuwait, Iran and India


Everyone loves to dance, but in Kuwait no one can show the courage to dance. Dancing in public is totally banned, you are not allowed to clap hands. In Sweden, bars and clubs must possess a license if they want to gift their customers the privilege of dancing.

It is illegal to dance in Iran. Nearly 30 students were arrested and also received 99 lashes for dancing in a party where women were also present. The country is not in favour of mixing dancing and alcohol since it is following Islam. In India, Rules for Licensing and Controlling Places of Amusement (other than cinemas), in 1960 has described that more than ten couples should not share the same dance floor.

4. Celebrating Valentine’s Day – Malaysia and Pakistan


If you are planning to visit Malaysia in February, you must change your decision, because you will not have an opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day. More than 80 Malaysians were imprisoned for breaking the law in 2011.

Pakistan’s High Court has imposed a ban on Valentine’s Day celebration. Valentine’s Day cards, electronic advertisements and internet memes are strictly prohibited. People and religious organizations have expressed their support to the court judgement, and religious groups hold anti-Valentine’s Day rallies on Feb. 14. In 2002 and 2008, religious police did not allow anyone to sell red items on Valentine’s Day. Five men were arrested and also got 4,500 lashes for celebrating Valentine’s Day with women in 2014.

3. Chewing Gum – Singapore


You may have to pay US$100,000 as penalty and also face imprisonment of 2 years for selling chewing gums in Singapore. In the Imports and Exports (Chewing Gum) Regulations it is clearly mentioned that all gums including bubble gum and dental chewing gums are banned in Singapore.

The country took this decision to prevent damage caused to environment due to gums. Now the public places are clean and hygienic in Singapore. The condition was not the same before! The Housing and Development Board (HDB) reportedly had to spend $150,000 every year to clean up chewing gum litter.

For Singaporeans it was difficult to cope up with the ban, some of them reached neighbour countries to buy chewing gum. But the clever government caught them and publicly defamed the act.

2. Abortion – El Salvador, Malta, the Vatican, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua


In around 134 countries, a woman can terminate her pregnancy to save her health, but in six countries abortion is not allowed. Those countries are El Salvador, Malta, the Vatican, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

No matter what the condition of a pregnant women, these countries will not say Yes to abortion. In 2012, a woman died in Ireland due to septic miscarriage. She begged for abortion, but the hospital did not allow it. She was told that abortion is impossible in Ireland since it is a Catholic country.

A couple of months ago, women staged a big protest in Ireland against country’s complicated abortion law. At present, a woman will be sentenced to 14 years if she violates the abortion rule.

1. Watching Adult Content – Guyana, Bangladesh, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan


Watching porn is illegal and is restricted in many countries. The list includes Guyana, Bangladesh, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In India, the Information Technology Act of 2000 has described that one may get up to 3 years and a fine of up to INR 500,000 if he sends vulgar content on any media platform.

In Saudi Arabia, you are advised not to store adult content in your devices. If the authorities find any such content stored in your phone or any device, they will confiscate your gadgets. Indonesia has implemented a law for the same and Russia has blocked more than 100 adult websites.

Sources: Independent, worldatlas, BBC, Telegraph, Express

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