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Samoan 'law' against forgetful husbands goes viral

Samoa may be home to recent cases of domestic unrest including the case of a wife burning her husband  after reading his text messages.

But the idea that it is illegal for a husband to forget his wife’s birthday, recently popular on the internet and long existent on the public record, is apparently without foundation. 

A post by the German-language Instagram site faktastisch this week was the latest outing for the factoid that the legal definition of spousal neglect in Samoa extended to forgetful husbands. 

“In the state of Samoa it is illegal for husband’s to forget their wife’s birthday,” the social media site faktastisch said this week, matter of factly. 

With an audience of 7.1 million followers, the German ‘Did you know?’ site is dedicated to sharing so-called viral (or widely shared online) tidbits.

The latest shocked and amused readers alike. Some commenters even suggested that Samoan men should tattoo their wife's birthday, so that they may never forget.

This is far from the first instance of the law being inaccurately reported.

A monthly British magazine for commercial lawyers and in-house counsel called Lawyer’s Monthly published the fictitious Samoan law in its December 2019 edition feature on ‘Laws that still exist’. 

The public record’s earliest instance of the “law” being reported stems from 2008, “Berea Citizen”, an American university newspaper. 

But responding to questions from this newspaper, lawyer Fiona Ey of Clarke Ey Koria Lawyers said the so-called law is a great example of why you should not believe everything that is on the internet.

"Long and short of it - it's an apocryphal story and a great example of why you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet, even if it is published by Lawyer's Monthly,” she said. 

Other "laws that still exist" stated in Lawyers Monthly December 2019 edition includes a legal requirement in Milan Italy to smile at all times except for funerals or hospitals and a law that requires homeowners in Scotland to open their doors to those who knock at your door wanting to use the bathroom.

The Samoa Observer’s own survey of current statutes found no reference to such laws existing. 

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