By MELISSA WELLHAM
Four people in China have been jailed, for digging up female corpses to sell as brides.
Yes. You read that right.
And this isn’t some bizarre piece of vampire fiction. This shit be real..
Background: Single men in China are concerned about entering the afterlife without a wife. Culturally and spiritually, the person you are buried next to is incredibly significant – and being buried alone is taboo.
This is where the grave robbers come in.
These thieves are charged with digging up female corpses for traditional “ghost marriages” – where dead single men are buried with a ‘wife’ (who they never even met let alone married in this life) who will keep them company in the afterlife.
Ghost marriages are becoming increasingly less common but marriage is still a very important part of Chinese culture, and so this tradition continues to be practiced by some more antediluvian families.
Normally it is agreed between the families of the dead, but the Xian Evening News said the group “stole female corpses and after cleaning them, fabricated medical files for the deceased and sold them for a high price”.
A court in the northern province of Shaanxi sentenced the four to terms between 28 and 32 months, it said, adding they took advantage of the “bad tradition” of ghost marriages in parts of Shaanxi and neighbouring Shanxi province.
Citing the court, the report said the gang made a total of 240,000 yuan ($38,000) from the sales of 10 corpses.
The preposterous and bizarre nature of this story is almost laughable (in that nervous way some people laugh at really inappropriate times). But it is sobering to think about the fact that these men stole 10 corpses. 10 bodies. 10 people.
10 real women, who were once somebody’s mother, or daughter, or sister – from their graves.
The Daily Mail reported on some other instances that “ghost marriages” have made headlines around the world in recent years:
Last year, another gang of grave robbers were caught trying to sell a dead woman days after her family had already tried to use her as a ghost bride.
The woman’s body was snatched and the gang of five offered the woman to another family for £3,000 before being caught.
In 2007, a man was arrested after killing and then selling six women. He claimed that ‘killing people and selling their bodies is less work than stealing them from graves.’
Posthumous marriage is not as uncommon a prospect as you might think and this isn’t confined to traditional Chinese culture.
Posthumous marriage is actually legal in France and a similar form of “ghost marriage” is practiced in Sudan.
In 2009, a French woman, Magali Jaskiewicz married her dead partner – and father of her two children – who was tragically killed in a road accident two days after he proposed.
Even more common than posthumous marriage, however, are after death arranged marriages – and these Chinese “ghost marriages” in many respects resemble exactly that.
In China, it is not unusual for the families of a deceased man and a deceased woman to combine the burials. The families come to an arrangement between themselves, without resorting to grave robbing. After a wedding ceremony (of sorts), the deceased couples are typically buried side by side, despite never having lived together or even having known each other before.
It’s been argued that the parents who are arranging these “ghost marriages” are coming from a place of good will and love for their children.
As far as they’re concerned, their beloved sons just didn’t get the chance to meet the right woman during his waking life – and shouldn’t have to be lonely for the afterlife as well.