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Mobile phones banned for Indian women as Kuwait bans dSLR cameras

Religious leaders in northern India have banned unmarried women from using mobile phones, while large cameras have been banned in Kuwait.

It's all fun and games bickering about whether Mac is better than PC, or Nokia is better than Android, but it's easy to forget that here in Blighty we have it pretty good when it comes to technology. In northern India, religious leaders have banned unmarried women from using mobile phones, while large cameras have been banned in Kuwait.

The phone ban for single women has been declared in Lank, a village in the north of India. It's not the purely technophobic measure it sounds -- village council officials are attempting to prevent a much older phenomenon: forbidden love. Sadly, in this case, forbidden love is punishable by death.

In some parts of northern India, local councils called panchayats have interpreted Hindu custom to mean that members of the same clan are essentially siblings, and are forbidden to marry, AP reports. Last year, 34 couples from the region in question eloped to avoid the restrictions.

Horrifically, eight so-called 'honour killings' have been reported there in the last month. Mobiles have been banned to stop young couples from calling each other to plan their escape -- as opposed to tackling the practice of killing members of your own family because they had the temerity to fall in love.

Unmarried chaps can use their mobile, but only if supervised by a parent. Local women's rights group Disha believes the ban discriminates against girls, holding them back in other areas.

Technology has in recent years come into conflict with long-held conservative religious beliefs across the world. Women in Indian schools and offices have access to the Web and social networking, as well as watching western TV shows with more relaxed values. Mobile phones are near-ubiquitous, with the government counting more than 670 million mobiles in a population of 1.2 billion.

That said, it's not always local custom that's the problem. Apple's iPad was barred from Israel because it failed to meet Wi-Fi regulations, while BlackBerry ran into trouble in Saudi Arabia and UAE over security issues.

Heck only knows the thinking behind the forbiddance of dSLR cameras in Kuwait. The Kuwait Times reported this week that the Kuwaiti Ministries of Information, Social Affairs and Finance have decreed cameras with detachable lenses can only be used by journalists. The reasons aren't clear, apart from the newspaper stating that "a big black camera tends to worry people" and recommends using a "more discreet camera or even a cell phone". The Foreign Office is investigating.

But before we get too carried away congratulating ourselves for our own forward thinking, remember this is a country where printer cartridges are terrorists.