By Rishi Iyengar
October 30, 2014

The words “till death do us part” don’t really apply in this case. Quite the opposite, actually.

Chinese authorities have arrested 11 people in the eastern province of Shandong for digging up bodies of dead women to be sold as “ghost brides,” the South China Morning Post reports. The custom of ghost marriage, still practiced in many parts of rural China, involves burying a woman next to an unmarried man who has recently died so he may have a companion in the afterlife.

The arrested men in this case reportedly excavated a Shandong woman’s body from her grave in March, selling it to a middleman for the equivalent of nearly $3,000. The main suspect, surnamed Wang, said in an interview that the value of the bodies went up if they were exhumed and sold closer to death, using the example of a woman disinterred three months after her passing.

“Years-old carcasses are not worth a damn, while the ones that have just died, like this one, are valuable,” Wang said.

Stealing corpses is a criminal offense in China, which can result in up to three years in prison if convicted.



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