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In our society, sexual activities are often deemed taboo, and indulging in self-pleasure is viewed as shameful instead of being celebrated. Hence, various doubts and uncertainties prevail when it comes to adult accessories that enhance sexual experience. Nevertheless, while the social stigmas associated with these products remain complex, regulatory policies concerning them are comparatively more direct. Despite that, one question prevails: Are sex toys unlawful?
The basic answer is no, at least not where you may reside.
However, despite being a $35 billion global industry, sex toys are still considered obscene in a few countries, as a result of which they are strictly prohibited. Hence, while it is possible to find them in these locations, we strongly advise avoiding owning or carrying adult merchandise if living in or traveling to such countries.
Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates
Indonesia has stringent anti-pornography regulations, as viewing such content can lead to imprisonment for up to four years. While sex toys are not explicitly banned, the vaguely worded laws often cover vibrators and dildos as well, and officials stringently impose them, conducting raids periodically, and even burning prohibited goods worth over $60,000 in 2022.
In Saudi Arabia, owning “sexual devices” such as sex toys is illegal. Anyone caught possessing any such item risks getting fined and having the items impounded.
In the UAE, under Section III, Article 362 of the Penal Code, objects that defy public morality are banned, encompassing sex toys. This extends to Dubai, a popular destination for tourism, and anyone caught owning such items may face confiscation, fines, and even detention. In a recent incident, a Geordie Shore star, Charlotte Crosby, had to plead with authorities at Dubai Airport after almost getting arrested for carrying a sex toy in her luggage while traveling.
India and Malaysia
Sex toys were earlier banned for obscenity charges under the Indian Customs Act of 1962, but this ban was overturned in 2011 by the court, which ruled that having sex toys does not necessarily imply obscenity.
Although there is no explicit ban on sex toys in India, the Penal Code strictly prohibits any object, drawing, or book that arouses overtly sexual thoughts under Section 292. Thus, sex toys sold in the country are marketed differently, avoiding any promiscuous wording or images. Non-phallic toys such as Lili egg vibrators pose no challenges; however, it is better to steer clear of realistic dildos.
In Malaysia, possession or sale of “obscene objects,” including sex toys, can lead to imprisonment and a fine.
Sex toys are classified as porn materials that are prohibited in the Maldives. Therefore, carrying such items in this country may lead to their confiscation, with some individuals facing jail time.
Thailand and Western countries
The possession and sale of adult items like sex toys in Thailand risk fines and imprisonment, despite being a popular sex tourism site. Yet, sex toys are sold openly in the country’s red-light districts.
In some US states, including Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, the sale of “obscene” items is banned, which may lead to the interpretation of sex toys as obscene items. Nonetheless, possessing these products is typically not illegal, and retailers can avoid trouble by marketing them only as “novelty” items, avoiding any promotion of their sexual nature explicitly.
An exception to this is Texas, which bans owning more than six sex toys, being deemed intent to sell. However, this regulation is rarely enforced, and prosecution is even rarer.
Age Limits and Safety regulations
Most places do not have any age restrictions on purchasing sex toys, but it is illegal in most regions to expose minors to X-rated content or pornography. Hence, many online and physical retailers have age restrictions on their customers concerning purchasing adult products. With sex toys becoming popular among popular department stores, anyone of any age can access them.
While the sex toy industry faces minimal restrictions in the western world, the absence of standard product regulations concerning hazardous materials and risky designs pose a significant threat to consumers’ safety. For example, phthalates, which cause harmful health effects and are banned from children’s toys, are still widely used in sex toys. Therefore, it is critical to ask three questions before buying sex toys: What is it made of? Where is it going, and Who am I buying it from? Silicone, glass, and plastic are inherently safe materials, and it’s crucial to ensure that any sex toy you intend to use is safe for anal insertion while being purchased through reputable retailers.