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11 Little Things That Could Get You Arrested In A Foreign Country

Don't say we didn't warn you.
PHOTO: istockphoto

Going on holiday or on a backpacking adventure is a lot of fun; it's why so many people do it. But something that could ruin that fun big time would be, er, getting arrested in a foreign country, especially if you weren't even aware you were breaking the law.

So to help you avoid any future unfair stints in foreign prisons, we thought we'd round up some of the tiny, seemingly insignificant things that could actually get you arrested in certain destinations abroad.

1. Crossing the road

In America, "jaywalking"or the act of crossing the road when the traffic lights don't say you canis a criminal offense. Granted, it's seen as a low level offense which is usually only dealt with by issuing a fine, but it's illegal all the same. Enforcement varies among states in America, but in Massachusetts for example, people found to be jaywalking will be fined $1 for their first, second, and third offences in any given year, and $2 for their fourth and any subsequent offences within the year.

2. Having sex

In Abu Dhabi and various other UAE countries including Dubai, having sex outside of marriage is seen as a highly punishable offense. An unnamed British woman visiting Dubai earlier this year claimed she had been gang-raped in the country, but to her shock, when she reported the incident to police in the country they ended up arresting her and not the men accused of the rape. Initially confiscating the young woman's passport, police told her she had committed an offense by having sex outside of marriage. The charges in this case were dropped shortly after, but a couple in Abu Dhabi experienced something similar. Ukranian-born Iryna Nohai discovered she was pregnant with her boyfriend Emlyn Culverwell's baby while the pair were holidaying in the country, and they were both arrested on charges of having had sex before marriage.

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Travel advice for such UAE countries states "it's against the law to live together, or to share the same hotel room, with someone of the opposite sex to whom you aren't married or closely related," and anyone found guilty of doing so runs the risk of prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine, and deportation.

3. Ordering an alcoholic drink

Well, it's illegal to buy outside of certain hours in Thailand. Because of the country's "blue laws" which restrict certain activities in order to observe times of rest, it's technically illegal to purchase alcohol from a bar, restaurant or anywhere else outside of lunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and dinner (after 5 p.m.). Looks like you can't just have those famous buckets of booze any time you please, then. Blogger and long time resident of Thailand Richard Barrow also says you can't legally buy alcohol on Buddha Day or on Election Day. So now you know.

4. Frowning

You're meant to be happy when you go on holiday, right? And in Milan, Italy, it seems like they're pretty keen to enforce that. According to an old law which has never been overturned, it's genuinely illegal not to smile, and it's punishable by a fine. Jeez, talk about organized fun. The only people who are exempt from the rule that's literally governed by the fun police are people in hospitals and those attending funerals. Fair enough.

5. Wearing a bikini when you're not on the beach

Various Spanish regions are clamping down on holidaymakers baring (nearly) all. In 2011, Barcelona outlawed tourists wandering the streets in bikinis or other swimwear, threatening them with fines if they did, and in 2014 Mallorca brought in a similar rule. If you're caught wearing your swimming costume on the street there, you could be liable to pay up more than $600 in fines. That's some dent in your duty free budget.

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6. Swearing

If you're off to Australia, you're going to have to wash your mouth out, because there are laws against offensive language in Queensland, Victoria and New South Walesall of which are very popular tourist destinations. Swearing is what's called a "summary offense" in these places, meaning that if you're arrested and charged, your case could be heard by a magistrate or a judge, not a jury. And they don't take it lightly, either: in Queensland and Victoria, being found guilty of offensive language could land you in prison for up to six months. F**king hell.

7. Flushing the toilet at night

No matter how desperate you are, you're going to have to avoid a trip to the toilet come nightfall as best you can if you're visiting Switzerland. Why? It's apparently against the law to flush the chain after 10pm in the country, because they deem it as noise pollution. I mean, yeah, but isn't that a better kind of pollution than leaving your bodily excretions to stew in the toilet all night? Just saying.

8. Connecting to wifi