Sunday 19 November 2017

Beijing cracks down on 'uncivilised' practice of using 'funeral strippers' to attract mourners to rural funerals

Sam Masters

Be kind. Try to live a virtuous life. Then, when the time comes, crowds may come to your funeral. In rural China, apparently, it also helps to attract mourners if you hire strippers.

But no more, Beijing has had enough. The practice is being outlawed by the ministry of culture. Xinhua news agency reported a statement from the ministry that said the presence of strippers was “uncivilised”.

The crackdown – in which police may break up funerals where strippers perform – follows two recent cases. In the northern Hebei province and eastern Jiangsu, exotic dancers were invited to stage what were described as “obscene performances”. Stripping remains illegal in China. “From time to time, ‘stripteases’ and other illegal performances have occurred in the countryside,” the ministry statement said, according to the AFP news agency.

At a funeral in Hebei province, two strippers “wearing revealing clothes danced on a stage at a public square in our village at night,” an eyewitness told the state-run Global Times. “They first danced passionately and then took off their clothes piece by piece. Behind them, an electronic screen was displaying a picture of the deceased with elegiac couplets on either side.”

The ministry reported one case from Handan earlier this year when six exotic dancers had arrived at a funeral of an elderly resident, only for the authorities to arrest and fine the troupe’s leader.

The funeral strip show is not without precedent. In 2006 five people were arrested for the “obscene performances” in Jiangsu. The arrests, in Donghai county, followed striptease acts at a farmer’s funeral. Two hundred people were said to have attended.

“Striptease used to be a common practice at funerals in Donghai’s rural areas to allure viewers,” Xinhua reported at the time. “Local villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more the dead person is honoured.”

The ministry said it will tighten control over rural culture, where the strip shows have been thriving because of a general lack of other cultural events.

People have complained in social media for some time about lewd shows at funerals. Many rural people believe that a large attendance at funerals is a sign of honour for the deceased.

Woody Allen’s immortal one-liner – “The difference between sex and death is that with death you can do it alone and no one is going to make fun of you” – may no longer apply.


Independent News Service

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