It appears that something borrowed and something blue is often the same item in some marriages in China. Chinese police are dealing with a rather novel crime: people digging up corpses to be buried with dead bachelors. They are called “ghost marriages” and four men have been arrested in this bizarre criminal enterprise.
This unique form of crime is based on ancient rituals reaching back to the 17th Century of matching dead girls with dead bachelors so that will not be “lonely” in the afterlife. A Yanchuan county court in Yan’an City sentenced the men — Pang, Bai, He and Zhang — for stealing 10 female corpses, cleaning them, and then counterfeiting their records before selling them for a total of £25,000. It turns out that that series of criminal acts will get you just 2 years in China. Of course, organizing peasants to protest land seizures or fighting polluting state enterprises will put you away for years.
Families actually conduct ritual ghost marriages with the corpses. The new found wealth in China has led to a resurgence of the practice. Some families have been known to sell their dead daughters for such marriages. In one case, a family dug up their dead daughter to sell her. A graverobber then dug her up again for a second ghost marriage — reportedly at a lower price for a used corpse.
The article below reports that less affluent families are using dough brides or worse items as substitutes.
Given the long opposition of the government (since Mao) to the practice, it is clear that there is a missing deterrent. China’s underdeveloped private tort system may be one such contributor.
Kudos: Professor Don Clarke