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Chinese Government Cracks Down On Funeral Strippers

04/23/2015 05:36 pm ET | Updated Apr 23, 2015

The Chinese government doesn't want any more strippers performing graveside.

In a statement released Thursday, the Chinese Ministry of Culture said it will work with police to enforce a ban on hiring women to dance and strip during funeral processions, according to The Wall Street Journal's "China Real Time" blog.

The statement condemned several "obscene" incidents, including one earlier this year in Handan, in Heibei province, in which six women were hired to perform an erotic dance at a funeral attended by small children.

Obscenity laws in China already prohibit public nudity. But according to a National Geographic video, the decades-old tradition of hiring funeral dancers to draw onlookers persists, linked to a cultural belief that "respect for the dead is measured in crowd size." In parts of China, a large crowd at a funeral is seen as an omen of success in the afterlife.

Watch: "Funeral Strippers" on National Geographic

In the video above, one man described the instructions a relative left for his own funeral before he died.

"He told his friends he wanted a hole to be dug in his coffin, and have the girls dance in front of him," the man said. "That way, he could watch the dance through the hole."

Indeed, the video shows a hole at the foot of the casket.

The custom of hiring strippers for funerals became prevalent in Taiwan in the 1980s, but is also practiced in mainland China.

Marc L. Moskowitz, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina, detailed the funeral rite in his documentary film "Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan."

In 2011 Moskowitz told i09 that full stripping at funerals is rare because of obscenity laws that prohibit public nudity.

"It's not at all common for urbanites, but in rural settings, most people have seen these performances. Actual full stripping has gone underground because there were laws enacted against full nudity in the mid-80s, so that isn't as popular as it once was," Moskowitz said.

Watch: Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan

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