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7 blatantly illegal things that are somehow legal elsewhere in the world

By / 03.04.14

blatantly-illegal-things

The world is a very big place. That means that for just about every human activity you can think of, there’s at least one corner of the planet where you can get away with it, with only your own sense of shame to punish you. Yes, while some things seem obviously illegal to us here in America, there are several places where the law more closely resembles something in a Mad Max movie. Anything goes, including these seven obviously illegal things.

7. Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens in America are largely confined to aging hippies and bored teenagers dropping acid in their parents’ basement. But in several South American countries, not only are hallucinogens legal, they’re an important part of the cultural and religious framework. I’m talking mostly about Ayahuasca, which is used by tribes in Amazonian Peru to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Naturally, once Westerners heard about it, they started flying down there themselves to trip balls with the natives. So while it may still be illegal for you to eat a bunch of mushrooms and then giggle naked through the halls of a police station in America, you can always take a vacation to South America. Sure, you’ll probably end up getting kidnapped and murdered by drug lords, but you’ll probably just think the whole thing is a hallucination anyway, so no harm done.

6. Polygamy

Believe it or not, polygamous marriages are recognized in almost 50 countries. So it’s not just Mormons in the desert. Most of these countries are in Africa and the Middle East because white people are just uptight, I guess. A notable exception is in the Netherlands, where they have something called a Samenlevingscontract, which is loosely translated as a “cohabitation agreement.” It’s not quite a marriage, but it creates a framework to deal with property, assets and any children that may result from the union in case it goes south. Now the interesting part of this contract is that it may include more than two partners. In effect, you can shack up with as many husbands or wives as you want, as long as it’s only semi-official. Personally, I just can’t wait for the Dutch version of Big Love because you just know that shit would be wild. The Afghan version, not so much.

5. Prostitution

red-light-district

Of course, even ten wives isn’t enough for some dudes, but instead of investing in some new ass, they’d rather just rent it for the night. Enter the oldest profession in the world. It would make sense then that such a venerable institution would be legal in most of the rest of the world. I mean, why not? If some horny dude is willing to throw you a few bucks to nervously fumble around before ejaculating on your thigh, I say go for it. But the Puritans who founded this fine nation after being kicked out of every other respectable establishment weren’t having that shit, probably because it actually gave a woman power over her own body. Of course, they conveniently forgot that Jesus himself hung out with hookers, and if he were alive today, I’m sure that instead of hanging out with depressing jerks in Kansas he’d be chilling in Amsterdam, hitting up weed shops with Ingrid, his prostitute roommate.

4. Beating Your Kid

Things start to get a little dark here. Beating the crap out of your kid is obviously uncool and has been formally outlawed in most of the industrialized world. But in much of the developing world, it’s still perfectly legal to give your kid the ol’ backhand when he mouths off to you. Sure, spanking is still legal in the U.S., but there are many cultures that go beyond that and treat kids like, well, like they treat everyone else. The weirdest are probably the African countries where it’s common to accuse a child of witchcraft and then kick his ass. I’m not making this up. Up to 50,000 kids in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been accused of witchcraft and been beaten or worse. Say what you will about America, but at least we don’t call our kids witches and then give them the belt. No, we just burn them at the stake.

3. Marrying a Child

I told you this was getting dark. In much of Asia and Africa, child brides are still fairly common, and there have been cases where poor little girls have even died of internal injuries because their new “husbands” just gots to have it. It’s completely messed up, but it’s not uncommon. In fact, in those parts of the world, it is disturbingly common. It’s estimated that 39,000 girls are essentially sold into “marriage” every day. In Niger, 75% of girls are married before they come of age. There are countless stories of girls who would be in 8th grade here being sold to 75 year old dudes for a few cows like it’s the 9th century still. India, one of the most powerful countries on Earth, accounts for 47% of all child marriages. Look, say what you will about America, but… I don’t even have a joke here. This is fucked up.

2. Heroin

Heroin is widely considered the deadliest of drugs, even in parts of the world where just about everything else goes. That’s why it’s kind of surprising that heroin is technically legal in many European countries. Of course, they don’t call it heroin – they call it diamorphine because they’re classy liars – and you can only get it by prescription, but it’s there for any junkie bold enough to stroll in off the street and whine about how he’s gotta have it. It was only a few years ago that Switzerland passed a ballot initiative authorizing the government to give heroin to addicts so they wouldn’t have to resort to crime in order to get it. 68% voted in favor of it. Just imagine something like that being on the ballot here. Amazingly, in the same election, 63.2% of Swiss voters voted against decriminalizing weed. The world is a weird place, man.

1. Murder

gun

Yes, murder. Of course, in parts of the world where it’s actually allowed, they call them honor killings. Basically, if you catch you wife in bed with another dude, or your kids shame you, you can kill them. In Jordan, article 340 of the penal code states “he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty.” Article 98 goes even further and says that a reduced sentence should be given to anyone who murders in “a fit of fury.” So basically, it’s cool as long as you were really, really angry. Sadly, this is all too common in much of the world, and while it’s not always as codified as it is in Jordan, it is the de facto law in many countries. So just think about that the next time your spouse suggests taking a trip abroad, especially if you’ve just done something that normally would require counseling.



Crime scene image by Shutterstock
Red Light District image by villorejo/Shutterstock
Gun image by Shutterstock


TAGSArbitrary Rankingscraziest things that are legalfeaturedlegal in other countriesListsweird laws
Neil Bulson
About Neil Bulson... Neil Bulson is a freelance writer who lives along the shores of Lake Michigan in a majestic castle where he spends his days beating his serfs and his nights writing and drinking firewater. His life goals include seducing Angela Lansbury, hunting and killing Bigfoot and being named King of Canada. So far, he has accomplished one of the three.

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