Afghan curse of 39 causing economic problems

There is supposedly a curse associated with the number ’39’ in Afghanistan. People are refusing license plates that has that number and it’s beginning to piss off the government. This exact issue has come up in the past as well.

Afghan car buyers urged to defy the ‘curse of 39’ – Yahoo Finance UK.

Afghans’ aversion to the number 39 due to its mysterious connotations of prostitution forced the government on Tuesday to appeal for people to stop refusing vehicle licence plates containing the much-feared figure.

The “curse of 39” has struck repeatedly in recent years, returning as registration number combinations cycle over, with car dealers complaining they get stuck with vehicles that they are unable to sell due to a bizarre urban legend.

The Curse of 39 is associated with prostitution and no one wants that on their car.

The Kabul traffic department has 800 plates they can’t get rid of. It’s costing them money. The number ’39’ is now cycling through the registration numbers and people are paying bribes to get another number. When they get a ’39’ plate, they may doctor the number to make it look like something else.

The spokesperson says it’s ridiculous to remove a whole number from the system. But bad associations for no good reason are ridiculous too, and very hard to erase from society. See the number ’13’ or ‘666’. There are no numbers that are ACTUALLY unlucky. We attribute that power to them.

Even if you don’t believe in such things, you may experience effects from people who do believe if your house, car, phone, etc. carries a stigmatized number. The only way to get over this is to wipe the silly idea from society. Gee, that’s not hard at all…

Forget Unlucky 13. In Afghanistan, Beware 39 : NPR.

39 license

  2 comments for “Afghan curse of 39 causing economic problems

  1. Rex Dart
    July 24, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    I find it interesting that the superstition appears to be of quite recent vintage. Though the Wikipedia page doesn’t specify a time frame, the elements of the story seem fairly modern (pimp with an expensive car that has a registration plate).

    And the Wikipedia page notes some curious “red-on-red” (in this case, using superstition to fight superstition) activity, with numerologists pointing out the “good” aspects of 39, and other people pointing out that the number shows up in the Koran, etc.

  2. rhapakatui
    July 24, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    This one doesn’t seem to me like a superstition as much as a social stigma. Growing up as a pentecostal, I remember there was always some new thing that we shouldn’t wear, or use because it meant something to some group we didn’t want to be associated with. I’m sure people at my old church would likely not want a license plate with 420 in it today. Afghanistan is mostly religious and uneducated. Peer pressure is a bitch in those situations.

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