ART AND CULTURE.

Six places in the world where dying is illegal (or ill-advised): one is in Italy

A ban on dying is a social political phenomenon in which a law is passed stating that it is illegal to die in a specific territory, municipality, city or even an island.

The first case of a ban on dying occurred in the 5th century BC, on the Greek island of Delos; here dying was forbidden for religious reasons.

Today, on the other hand, in most cases, the prohibition of death is a 'humorous' response to the government's failure to approve the expansion of municipal cemeteries or the granting of land to build new ones.

It happens in Europe (Spain, France, Italy), but also in Japan and Brazil.

Wikimedia - JordyMeow
Itsukushima, Japan
Itsukushima is an island in Japan known as 'Shrine Island', as it is the site of the UNESCO World Heritage shrine of the same name. To maintain the purity of the island, burials (and therefore deaths) and births have been prohibited since 1878: pregnant women should retreat to the mainland as the day of delivery approaches, as should the terminally ill or the very old whose death has become imminent. This custom originated after the battle of Miyajima in 1555, when the victorious commander had the bodies of the victims transferred to the mainland and ordered that the battlefield be cleared of spilled blood, to the extent that buildings were cleared and blood-soaked soil was removed from the island.
Wikimedia - bodoklecksel
Lanjarón, Spain
Lanjarón is a Spanish town of about 4000 inhabitants, where death has been prohibited, or rather, discouraged. The cemetery in the village is full, and so the mayor has enacted a law whereby people cannot die until the government acquires land for a new cemetery. The mayor explained that this particular law is his response to politicians urging him to find a quick solution to a long-standing problem.
Wikimedia - Mateusz War
Longyearbyen, Norway
In Longyearbyen, Norway, it is not illegal to die, but there are no options for burial: terminally ill residents are taken to Oslo to live out their last days. This is because the bodies of citizens who died during the 1918 influenza pandemic have not decomposed due to permafrost and it is feared that the bodies still contain active strains of the virus.
Wikimedia - Juliconsanto
Biritiba Mirim, Brazil
Biritiba Mirim is a Brazilian municipality in the state of São Paulo. In 2005, the mayor presented a public bill to make it illegal for people living in the town to die. This decision was taken, as in other similar cases, because the cemetery is full, but also because citizens have 'poor health care', which makes them more vulnerable to death. Despite this, the law has not yet been passed, and no new cemetery has been created, leaving the situation unresolved.
Wikimedia - Comune di Sellia
Sellia, Italy
Sellia is an Italian municipality in the province of Catanzaro in Calabria, where it has been forbidden to get sick and die since 2015. The ban was imposed by the mayor, Davide Zicchinella, as a warning to take care of one's health. This unusual decision stems from the mayor's desire to combat depopulation and abandonment, which obviously includes the survival of its inhabitants. It seems that the initiative has produced positive results in terms of health prevention in a short time.
Wikimedia - Wolf Meusel
Southern France
In the south of France, three towns have banned death as a protest against the difficulty in obtaining permits to expand the local cemetery, which is currently full. The first town to set an 'example' was Le Lavandou in 2000, followed by Cugnaux and Sarpourenx.
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26/02/2024
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