China urges people to stop hiring strippers for funerals

The government has promised a police crackdown on the (apparently) popular funerary custom

By Jenny Kutner

Published April 23, 2015 7:35PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>garrettmerchant</a> via <a href=''>iStock</a>)
(garrettmerchant via iStock)

In my family, when someone dies, we gather together to shovel dirt into the deceased's grave until the casket is completely buried, and then we sit at home for seven days eating food and receiving guests and praying together every evening. We sit shiva. It's our way of bringing mourners together.

Here is another way to bring mourners together: Hire strippers for the funeral.

This is not a practice with which I have much (read: any) personal experience, but it is, apparently, one that's become quite common in China -- or, at least, common enough for the Chinese government to demand that people stop doing it. On Thursday, the nation's Ministry of Culture issued a statement announcing a police crackdown on funerary stripper performances, which the government has reportedly been trying to eradicate for some time. According to the Wall Street Journal, strippers are generally hired with the intent of attracting more mourners to a funeral, to increase the deceased's good fortune in the afterlife.

More from WSJ:

Pictures of a funeral in the city of Handan in northern Hebei province last month showed a dancer removing her bra as assembled parents and children watched. They were widely circulated online, prompting much opprobrium. In its Thursday statement, the Ministry of Culture cited “obscene” performances in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu, as well as in Handan, and pledged to crack down on such lascivious last rites.

In the Handan incident earlier this year, the ministry said, six performers had arrived to offer an erotic dance at the funeral of an elderly resident. Investigators were dispatched and the performance was found to have violated public security regulations, with the person responsible for the performing troupe in question detained administratively for 15 days and fined 70,000 yuan (about $11,300), the statement said. The government condemned such performances for corrupting the social atmosphere.

The government has been trying to fight the country’s funereal stripper scourge for some time now. In 2006, the state-run broadcaster China Central Television’s leading investigative news show Jiaodian Fangtan aired an exposé on the practice of scantily clad women making appearances at memorial services in Donghai in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. [...]

CCTV found about a dozen funeral performance troupes offering such services in every village in the county, putting on as many as 20 shows a month at a rate of 2,000 yuan ($322) a pop.

An AFP report notes that some funeral strippers have drawn crowds of up to 500 "mourners," so it's possible Chinese law enforcement won't have a particularly difficult time finding the performances if and when they happen.

Jenny Kutner

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