This month, a video circulated on social media showing a bikini-clad woman being manhandled by police officers on Maafushi, in the Maldives. It is uncomfortable to watch. The woman, who was later identified as British reality television “star” and travel blogger Cecilia Jastrzembska, shouts, “You are sexually assaulting me”, as she is surrounded by men, who flounder in their attempts to arrest her for indecent exposure. She was later released without charge. On February 7, the commissioner of police, Mohamed Hameed, tweeted an apology “to the tourist & the public”, describing the incident as “badly handled”. Although it’s hard to argue with Hameed, cynics might wonder whether his response was motivated more by a commitment to conserve the Maldives’ reputation as a desirable holiday destination rather then genuine contrition, especially as the tourism industry, a major contributor to the national GDP, has been hard hit by a coronavirus -related ban on Chinese arrivals, last year’s main source market. But back to the bikini. For those who know the island nation through Instagram images of bronzed bodies poised in next to nothing on curved boardwalks as the azure Indian Ocean stretches to meet the sky behind them, the fact that swimwear is not sanctioned everywhere in the Maldives might come as a surprise. However, bikinis, swimsuits and swimming trunks are authorised only in resorts. As Jastrzembska learned the hard way, swimwear is most certainly not streetwear, and in the nation described by American broadcaster CBS News as one of “the most heavily Muslim countries on Earth”, wearing a two-piece to walk down the road is nothing short of disrespectful. View this post on Instagram Breakfast in the Maldives! Photo by: @missangievilla #natgeotravel#citybestpics#worldplaces#best_worldplaces#wondeful_places#beautifuldestinations#bestvacations#maldives#maldives#igersmaldives#visit#maldives#wheninmaldives#maldivestour#maldivesesorts#maldivesislands#visitmaldives#maldives2019#maldivestrip#exploremaldives#sharks#besthotel#hotelroom#goals#beach#travel#borabora#bora2019#take#photograph A post shared by MOST LUXURY HOTELS & RESORTS (@wearehotellers) on Jan 17, 2020 at 10:44am PST It is not the first time that a bikini has caused such controversy. When the style of swimsuit was introduced in the 1940s , it was denounced as “sinful” by Pope Pius XII and “at the razor’s edge of decency” by (one-piece) swimwear designer Anne Cole. Indeed, bikinis were banned from beaches in Italy, Spain, Belgium and certain states in the United States. Times changed and so did opinions on women’s bodies and how to police them. For the most part. In 2011, Barcelona prohibited swimwear beyond beach boundaries, a rule that also applies to the Spanish island of Majorca and in Hvar, Croatia. Last October, a Taiwanese tourist was arrested on the Philippine resort island of Boracay and fined 2,500 pesos (US$50) for wearing a barely-there bikini, and a year earlier, “two indecent foreigners riding a motorcycle” were ordered to cover up by police on another Philippine island, Bohol, according to British tabloid The Daily Mail . It is generally agreed that the bikini is appropriate beach attire but not so much when it is removed from the sun-sea-sand context. Especially in countries where religion plays a major role, such as the Maldives or the Philippines. Had Jastrzembska heeded British Foreign Office advice for travellers visiting the Maldives, she might have avoided the incident entirely. “You should be sensitive to local dress standards when on local islands or if staying on an island where the resort is not the exclusive property on the island – cover your shoulders and avoid short or tight-fitting shorts (men and women); when bathing, cover arms and upper legs,” states the website. It also recommends respecting “local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times,” guidance that should be followed no matter where we are in the world. As for mankinis – please, leave them in your suitcase, even if you are heading to the beach. Bali beach cleaners see a reduction in single-use plastic View this post on Instagram Where do we even begin? This annual event of Bali’s Biggest Clean Up would not be possible without all of the passionate and determined PEOPLE on Bali. We have had ENOUGH of the plastic pollution and on this day we come together to show that we want change. Collaboration has been at the heart of this movement of #oneislandonevoice from the very beginning when our founders created it at 10 & 12 years old. It has become a movement bigger than any one person or organization on its own. tomorrow we hope to share more with you on the data collected! : @jenya_kadnikova A post shared by Bye Bye Plastic Bags (@byebyeplasticbags) on Feb 16, 2020 at 1:22am PST On February 15, thousands gathered on the island of Bali , in Indonesia, for an annual beach clean-up organised by Melati and Isabel Wijsen. It was the teenage sisters’ fourth year hosting the environmental event and they told Al Jazeera they had noticed a reduction in the amount of waste since a ban on single-use plastics came into effect in July last year. However, they noted, there was still plenty more to be done, with small businesses lagging major retailers when it came to cutting back on plastic bags. Last year, the clean-up recorded 41,733 items of plastic, most of which consisted of food packaging. Plastic bottles and caps, and bags were also some of the main offenders. Foreigners denied entry to Bali because of China travel history Fewer tourists than normal will be able to experience Bali’s unblemished beaches, as the island’s immigration office is turning away those with a recent history of travel to mainland China. On February 14, The Jakarta Post reported that 91 would-be visitors, from countries including Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the US, had been denied entry. The government-imposed ruling, which was implemented on February 5, bars anyone who has visited mainland China within the past 14 day from visiting or transiting through Indonesia. Also banned are direct flights to and from mainland China, which has left an estimated 5,000 Chinese tourists stranded in Bali. They will not be penalised for overstaying their visas, seeing as there’s no way for them to get home, and, presumably, there are worse places in which to wait out the coronavirus outbreak, particularly as Indonesia remains one of the few countries in Southeast Asia with no cases – at least none that the authorities are admitting to.