Eleanor Hawkins’ gap year turned into a holiday from hell this week, when a risqué snap posted to social media – showing her and 10 friends posing naked at the peak of a sacred Malaysian mountain – scored her three days in jail, accused of ‘upsetting the gods’ and causing a ‘deadly quake’ which killed 18 people. 

The 23-year-old student from Derbyshire was blamed for causing the earthquake, which measured at 5.9 on the Richter scale, when a snap showing her full-frontal boobs was posted to the social network, quickly going viral. She appeared in a court in Malaysia’s Sabah State alongside Canadian sisters Danielle and Lindsey Petersen and an unnamed Dutchman, pleading guilty to committing ‘obscene’ acts in a public and ‘sacred’ place. 

Borneo’s most prolific native tribe, the Dusun, insisted that the behaviour of the westerners ‘upset their gods’ and caused the earthquake, killing 18 people and rendering hundreds more stranded on the mountain. In support of the tribe and its beliefs, native politicians also drew up a link between the nudity and the natural disaster. 

The four tourists – all of whom avoided a trial by entering their guilty plea – willingly offered to issue a heartfelt public apology to the angry natives for their disconcerting behaviour before being fined and ultimately deported. The public prosecutor called for a sentence to warn and deter others, and said the tourists’ behaviour had caused “annoyance to many Malaysians.”

It was Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan who blamed the tragedy on the foreigners for displaying gross “disrespect to the sacred mountain” by posing naked at its peak. He reported that the sacred Mount Kinabalu, regarded by locals as the final resting place for the dead, will undergo a ‘spiritual ritual’ to “appease the mountain spirit.” 

Her guilty plea got her out of what could have been a three-month jail sentence, but Eleanor will think twice before posting nude snaps to social media in the future! Eleanor isn’t the first to do something crazy in her gap year, and with the prolific selfie a worldwide trend, it is only a matter of time before a risqué picture falls into the wrong hands. As you read Eleanor’s story, even you may recall a picture you regretted sharing with the vast world of social media.  

Has a cheeky snap ever landed you in trouble? We’d love to hear from you. 

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