China
A dancer is seen here performing at a funeral in China's southwestern city of Chongqing. In certain parts of China, professional mourners known as 'kusangren' are hired to guarantee that a funeral is a spectacle in grief. Getty Images

China has announced a crackdown on the use of strippers at funerals, claiming that the "bizarre and increasingly popular" practice is "corrupting the social atmosphere" of the country.

The Ministry of Culture says it is no longer willing to tolerate the "obscene, pornographic, and vulgar performances" and has set up a hotline across 19 cities in Henan, Jiangsu and Hebei provinces where callers will be offered cash incentives to inform authorities if the ban has been flouted.

China has twice previously pledged to end "funeral misdeeds" in 2006 and in 2015 but the custom still persists in many rural areas despite the government's clampdown.

Some Chinese communities believe attracting large crowds honours the deceased and brings them good fortune, according to Global Times, China's communist party newspaper.

"Chinese rural households are more inclined to show off their disposable incomes by paying out several times their annual income for actors, singers, comedians, and - most recently, strippers - to comfort the bereaved and entertain the mourners", it said.

The practice of hiring strippers for funerals emerged during the 1990s due to improving prosperity and changing social norms. More traditional performers such as opera singers and comedians made way for the emergence of exotic dancers who also frequently appear at weddings and Chinese New Year public gatherings.

Funeral performers are also a way to celebrate fertility, according to one expert.

"According to the interpretation of cultural anthropology, the fete is originated from the worship of reproduction," media professor Kuang Haiyan told the The Global Times. "Therefore the erotic performance at the funeral is just a cultural atavism.

"From the perspective of folklore, festivals and rituals such as the Chinese New Year are the critical time for people to lay down their life and embrace the death. That's the moment for them to release their passion at the funeral."

In 2015, Xinhua news agency claimed that "erotic performances ... highlights the trappings of modern life in China, whereby vanity and snobbery prevail over traditions."