Earth & Conservation

New App Helps Unmarried Couples in India Find Privacy

In India, unmarried couples are often harassed, and sometimes even arrested for indecent behavior.

<p>Photo: ThinkStock</p>

For unmarried couples in India, finding some alone time can be pretty tricky. That's why a new app called StayUncle is trying to make it a little bit easier for them, reports Quartz. StayUncle pairs people with hotels that are willing to offer rooms to unmarried couples, something that is not illegal in India, but is frowned upon in the conservative culture.

The founder of StayUncle, Sanchit Sethi, told Quartz that his aim was for unmarried couples to have somewhere safe to go that's free of judgement. "There is no law in India that prohibits (unmarried) couples from renting a room... We don't live in the 1950s anymore. What we are trying to do is change the mindset of hoteliers."

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The fear of being harassed for these couples is very real. The police often target them, as do self-appointed vigilantes who claim to be defending Indian culture. Last year, 13 couples were arrested by police in various beaches and hotels in Mumbai for "indecent behavior."

After the incident, one 21-year-old woman who had been arrested with her partner at a resort tweeted, "What wrong have I done?" reported First Post. She told the Indian publication that a female officer slapped her when she asked why she was being arrested for a public offense even though her actions had happened behind closed doors.

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For Sethi, StayUncle is about much more than making money. Ensuring the privacy of his customers means protecting them from harassment and arrest. But privacy can be difficult in India, where hidden cameras have been discovered in places like dressing rooms, sometimes even in upscale department stores.

Sethi says he only does business with hotels that have a good reputation, those that wouldn't put their businesses at stake by installing cameras. He firmly believes that the hotels he's involved with would never do something like that.