Certain Asian and Islamic countries have quite a reputation for unusual laws banning all sort of things we would normally find harmless. All of us who were brought up in a progressive country have a hard time imagining how some items we tend to use everyday are illegal in some places of the world. From food and flowers to colors to hairstyles, you won’t believe the things governments forbid in our modern days.
Just look at children. They are the perfect example of how interdictions work in our minds. When something is forbidden, their interest will only be stirred up even more. Laws are meant to maintain social order. We can all agree that some interdictions are necessary, otherwise the world would go berserk. Sometimes, they are clever solutions to certain environmental issues, like when Bangladesh put a ban on plastic bags in 2002, other countries followed. Some prohibitions have religious backgrounds, others are plain ridiculous. How do they even justify them? Well, the government always comes up with a reason, no matter how crazy it may sound.
20. Ketchup in France
France felt teenagers were using excessive amounts of ketchup to the detriment of traditional French cuisine, which was therefore beginning to lose its originality. So they banned ketchup from school cafeterias. There is, however, one exception to the rule. If students order french fries, they are allowed some ketchup on the side.
19. Most Baby Names in Denmark
If you live in Denmark and want an original name for your baby, tough luck. You have to choose from the list of 24,000 names approved by the government. In fact, the Danish government banned creative names altogether, and if you have your mind set on a name outside the list, you have to make a special request and ask for permission.
18. Time Travel in China
Well, not the action of time traveling in itself, we’ve yet to master that one, but the portrayal of time travel. The Chinese government feels that TV shows, movies, and books that focus on time travel tend to show an erroneous image of history, making up myths and false events. Therefore, all media that revolves around time travel has become the target of Chinese censorship.
17. Baby Walkers in Canada
Following the results of a series of studies conducted in Canada on babies raised with walkers which showed delayed motor skills, the government banned all baby walkers. Selling them is no longer permitted. Since 2004, babies have to learn to walk the old-fashioned way.
16. Spanking in Sweden
Remember the old saying “you deserve a good, old-fashioned spanking?” Well, if the Swedes hear you say this, you might get into trouble. Sure, school spanking should be banned everywhere, but in Sweden, not even parents are allowed to spank their children. Sweden was the first country in the world to ban parents from physically punishing their children. Other countries followed and still, school punishments are still allowed in 19 American states.
15. Haggis in the USA
Haggis is a traditional Scottish delicacy, a sort of pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. For the last four decades, it has been illegal in the U.S., after food containing sheep lung has been completely banned. However, haggis made in the U.S.A. using alternative ingredients is legal, but it simply isn’t the same without the key ingredient.
14. Chewing Gum in Singapore
It happened to all of us: having a piece of chewing gum stuck to our shoe, or even worse, to our hand when reaching under the table or chair in a restaurant or some other public place. Ever since 1992, selling and using chewing gum in Singapore has been illegal. The law was meant to keep the streets and public places clean. It seems Singapore was filled with used chewing gum, from elevators to gum sticking to subway doors, which even caused delays in the subway system.
13. McDonald’s in Bolivia
Banning McDonald’s sounds crazy for most of us. In Bolivia, it is not really a law, but a decision of the people. Bolivian cuisine is all about time, love, and care, and the people actually live by these ancestral laws. Fast-food is against their beliefs. McDonald’s stood no chance. During its short stay in the country, almost no Bolivians ate there.
12. Yellow Clothing in Malaysia
Not being allowed to wear your favorite yellow sweater? What a nightmare! And it’s not just T-shirts, but everything yellow, from belts to hats, wristbands, even shoelaces. In 2011, the Malaysian government banned the color yellow in clothing because it was the color of a group of opposition activists. The decision was particularly strange given the fact that yellow is a royal color in Malaysia, and very popular because Malaysians tend to look good in it.
11. Avatar in 2D in China
This one’s a cracker. The main theme in James Cameron‘s Avatar is people siding with an indigenous population against an imperialist force. Apparently, China did not like the idea so much. So they thought of a solution: to ban the movie in 2D. Since China has almost no 3D theaters, it was very simple to prevent the people from watching the movie.
10. Jasmine in China
The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia managed to remove the totalitarian regime in the country through bloody manifestations. This inspired certain Chinese protestors. The solution? The Chinese government repressed the protests, and also banned the flower. That’s right, jasmine is illegal in China, so are all songs that mention it, as well as using the word “jasmine” in text messages.
9. Vitamin Fortified Food in Denmark
The authorities in Denmark believe the citizens consume too much vitamins and nutrients, so they banned all fortified food in the country. Yeast-based spreads like Ovaltine and Marmite, fortified breakfast cereals like Rice Crispies, and milk fortified with vitamin D are the main targets.
8. Video Games in Greece
Originally, the drastic measure was meant to aim at slot machines and online betting, thus regulating Internet gambling. However, the law was not clear, with no mention to how to make the difference between gambling games and harmless video games. This led to a person being arrested for playing video games inside an Internet cafe. Although a judge declared the law unconstitutional, it still exists.
7. Reincarnation Without Prior Consent in China
Sure, this may not seem like a big problem for most of us, but Buddhist monks in Tibet are facing quite an issue here. The law was an attempt of the Chinese government to keep Buddhist monks under control, particularly to diminish the Dalai Lama’s influence in the region. So, without prior approval of the Chinese government, you cannot seek reincarnation. Then again, can they check?
6. St. Valentine’s Day in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian government feels that the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day is completely against Islamic beliefs. So they put a ban on all things related to it, as well as on all things red around St. Valentine’s, from flowers to presents. This did however, lead to a flourishing black market.
5. Western Haircuts in Iran
Most Islamic countries are not so crazy about the Western culture. In fact, they would do just about anything to keep the people as far away from its influence as possible. They believe there are a few haircuts and hairstyles that are simply too European. Mohawks, mullets, spikes, and ponytails are illegal in Iran.
4. The Emo Style in Russia
Good news for everyone who hates Goth and Emo clothing. If you happen to travel to Russia by any chance, you’ll be relieved to find that such a dress code has been banned from schools, government buildings, and just about every public place. Emo kids wear a lot of black, facial piercings, and black hair with fringes covering half their face. The Russian government feels that the trend is dangerous for teenagers, encouraging anti-social behavior, depression, and suicide. They even went as far as to refer to the style as “a threat to national stability.” In 2008, Russia banned Goth and Emo music, as well as all clothing styles related to the trend.
3. Porn Featuring Small Breasts in Australia
According to the Australian Classification Board (ABC), women with A cup breasts are not really women. If you like watching porn featuring women with small breasts, you secretly love child porn. Sure, laws against actresses that are under 18 starring in porn are good, but the ABC feels that small breasts make women look as if they’re under 18. While there’s no law preventing you from watching porn featuring small cup sizes, the ABC did reject a number of movies solely on the breast size.
2. Driving for Women in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has a patriarchal society, and the Islamic law clearly defines gender roles. Sure, there’s no written law preventing women from driving in Saudi Arabia. But still, no authority issues licenses to women. So far, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving.
1. Game Consoles in China
Back in 2000, the Chinese government thought kids and youngsters were wasting too much time playing video games, so they decided to ban game consoles, hoping this would encourage them to study or work harder. Plus, they considered the violent content of these games a potential for moral decay. The law involved restrictions in manufacturing and marketing game consoles. Nevertheless, non-console video games are still permitted, which makes the law pretty ineffective.