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Man arrested for being naked at home opens a can of worms
A court found a taxi driver guilty of being naked in his own home, I heard from a reader in Singapore. Chua Hok Hin, aged 56, was in his kitchen when his neighbours saw him in an unclothed state through his kitchen window. He was taken to court and fined S$2,600.

The case triggered some interesting comments in the chat-rooms of the Lion City, including the following, which I reproduce in their original Singaporean English. "Sad-ah Singapore. At home also cannot be naked." "When guy naked in own home, is the guy fault. Sued for indecent exposure. When ger [girl] naked in own home, ppl see ppl kena [guy seeing her can be] sued for [being a] peeping tom. Double standards." "Is it an offence if I use binocular to look into neighbour house to check if anyone is naked?" The reader who told me about this commented: "And we wonder why our birth rate is lower than George W Bush’s IQ."

I visited a lawyer to discuss this. She told me that while several countries have laws in which you can be arrested for being naked in your own home, cases are never prosecuted. "Police just visit and advise people to buy curtains," she said.

That’s exactly how a case in Texas was resolved last year. But that case was interesting for two reasons. First, the person who forgot to shut her bathroom curtains was female. Normally, women guilty of indecent exposure do not get reported to the police. Instead, they get warm, heartfelt thank-you letters from every guy in the street.

Secondly, the woman’s bathroom was on the second floor, while her neighbours all lived in bungalows. This suggested that they may have needed ladders to get themselves into a position where they could be suitably outraged.

I couldn’t help but feel there was something unfair about all this. Reader Shaik Anwar Ahamath shared a related anecdote: "I heard a chap complaining that when he comes home from work he usually finds his wife wearing his shirts and boxer shorts. One day she came home and found him wearing her clothes. She immediately dragged him off to see a shrink. Where’s the justice?"

The lawyer told me that in Singapore, a guy can legally take all his clothes off at home if he has "a reasonable expectation that he cannot be seen". For example, if you stand naked in front of the window on a farm, the sheep are not going to complain (unless you are really, really ugly, like the fat guy who fought naked with Sasha Baron Cohen in Borat). But if you live in a house with floor-to-ceiling windows on the ground floor of an Orchard Street building, doing the same thing can get you arrested.

I mentioned this in the bar that night. One short, fat banker said: "In middle class homes in Asia, there’s another issue. Since we typically have one or more domestic helpers sharing the space, we have to be careful. Once I thought I was alone in the apartment and got naked, but I turned a corner and walked straight into my helper."

"No big deal," I said. "The poor woman works hard all day long. She deserves a good laugh now and then."

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