11 held for digging women’s graves for ‘ghost marriages’

Beijing, Oct 30 (IANS/EFE) Chinese police have arrested 11 people for allegedly digging up dead women’s bodies from their graves to sell them for rituals known as “ghost marriages”, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper reported Thursday.

The suspects were detained after they exhumed the body of a woman in Shandong province and sold it to the family of a deceased middle-aged man, according to the report.
As part of the ghost marriage ritual, women’s corpses are buried next to the graves of men who died as bachelors, so they are not alone in the afterlife.
The custom dates back to the 17th century B.C. and is still practiced in certain regions of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Hebei and Guangdong, in China.
The leader of the gang, known by his surname Wang, said after his arrest that the fresher the bodies, the more they are worth.
“Years-old carcasses are not worth a damn, while the ones that have just died, like this one, are valuable,” he said in a clip aired on Chinese radio, referring to the woman’s corpse for which he and his companions were detained.
Fresh bodies of dead women are usually worth between 16,000 and 20,000 yuan (between $2,000 and $4,000), he said.
The body of the dead woman, in this case, circulated on the black market and through several cities until it was finally sold to the family of a dead bachelor in Heibei, for a sum of 38,000 yuan (over $6,200).
If convicted, Wang and ten other suspects face prison terms of up to three years.