On first reading this heading you would think that it would belong in our myths section, but it is true. In some places around the world it really is illegal to die. In most cases the laws, although they sound bizarre, are made for fairly rational reasons. In the Brazilian city Biritiba-Mirim for example the law was introduced because of a lack of plots to bury the deceased. The mayor proposed the law because the cities inhabitants weren’t look after their health well enough and were dying sooner. Although no specific punishment has been presented for those who die, it has been assumed that the relatives would be targeted with fines and imprisonment.
In three settlements in France they have also made it illegal to die for similar reasons that Biritiba-Mirim have. The first town, Le Lavandou introduced the by-law when they were denied building an extension to their already full cemetery. Two other towns, Cugnaux and Sarpourenx soon followed suit for similar reasons.
In Norway, the town of Longyearbyen, which is the largest settlement in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, introduced a law preventing natural deaths in the 1930’s. The reason behind Longyearbyen making it illegal to die was because they discovered that the corpses were being buried in permafrost and were not decaying. People who fall gravely ill are transported to the Norwegian mainland so if they die that can be buried there.
The Japanese island of Itsukushima is considered a sacred place and not only dying is prohibited there, but also giving birth. Following the only battle to ever take place on the island, the Battle of Miyajima in 1555, the victorious commander ordered all of the corpses to be removed from the island. He then commanded that all of the blood be cleaned from the ground, and even removed the blood stained soil back to the mainland. To this day if a woman is about to give birth she is taken to the Japanese mainland for the birth, and when a person is close to death they are also removed to the mainland.
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