India's Police Crack Down on Taking Selfies in Public

Mumbai's 'moral policing' caused outrage across the country.

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Sure, dodging groups of people taking selfies on a crowded street can be annoying. But is it bad enough for handcuffs? In Mumbai, police officers have arrested people for taking selfies out of wedlock.

It's part of a new crackdown before Navratri, a festival that starts Thursday and lasts for 10 days, Vocativ reports. The idea was to protect women from being groped or harassed in crowded spaces, but many police officers have taken that to mean punishing any public displays of affection, especially between people who are not married.

Earlier this month, two men were detained and fined for touching a woman while posing for a group selfie, and police were unable to explain just what made their behavior so "indecent." And that's on top of another pair of arrests after a woman was simply sitting with her arm around her boyfriend's waist.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria issued a statement after the city's "moral policing" caused outrage across India. "The squads' mandate is to concentrate on preventing harassment of women and they are supposed to refrain from indulging in any kind of moral policing," he said, according to NDTV. "It is again reiterated that Mumbai Police is firm on its stand that it will not act as the moral police." The city police reportedly held a sensitivity workshop to teach cops the difference between selfies and street harassment.


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Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.