While China’s “ghost weddings” have always been super creepy, they recently got a whole lot more scary after Shaanxi police charged three men with murdering two women so that they could sell their dead bodies as corpse brides.
According to the Global Times, in February, two men surnamed Ma and An posed as matchmakers and promised a mentally disabled woman that they would find her a suitable husband. In a way, they were telling the truth, they lured the woman away from home and stabbed her with a needle full of a powerful sedative, killing her.
The men then hired another man surnamed Yang to drive the body to Yulin county, Shaanxi province, where it was sold for 35,000 yuan for use in a local “ghost wedding.”
The three men tried the very same thing in April. However, this time their vehicle was pulled over by Shaanxi police. A dead woman’s body was found inside. Last week, the men were charged. Ma with abduction, human trafficking and murder. An with abduction and trafficking and Yang with shielding the other two.
This frightening story has raised concerns yet again about the ancient tradition of “ghost weddings,” which are technically illegal in China, but are still practiced, chiefly in rural regions of Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces.
The men there are subject to an unfortunate set of circumstances: too few women and too dangerous work. This leads to numerous guys dying as bachelors. However, families believe that it is bad luck for a man to go off into the afterlife without a woman by his side — it could even put a curse on the family. To avoid being cursed, sometimes, families can arrange “ghost weddings” between a recently departed bachelor and a buried woman. A fresh female corpse can fetch upwards of 100,000 yuan on the black market. In May, one family shelled out 180,000 for a blushing corpse bride.
Of course, this practice also provides quite the opportunity for unscrupulous businessmen with shovels. One unfortunate Shanxi village is haunted by grave robbers, losing 15 female corpses in the past three years.
But with demand still so high, some criminals have simply turned to murder to increase supply. Along with this grisly case, a man was also arrested in Inner Mongolia last year for murdering a woman with plans to sell her body as a corpse bride, the BBC reports.
While corpse brides and “ghost weddings” are illegal in China, it still seems that business is going strong despite crackdowns by police. Last October, police in Shanxi detained three people suspected of stealing a corpse for a “ghost wedding.” Back in 2013, a gang of four was caught selling off 10 corpses for 240,000 yuan.