back to top

7 Horrific Female Funeral Rituals

It's International Woman's Day today, a day that celebrates women's social, economic and political advances in the world. History taught us the brutal way in which we women were treated, even in death we had to make sacrifices.

Posted on

7 Horrific Female Funeral Rituals

International woman’s day, the day were women across the world celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political advancements that they achieved.

Of course it is wildly known that women weren’t once treated as equals. There were many traditions and etiquette's that a woman were expected to adhere to. Even to the extent of funeral etiquette. Around the world and throughout the age’s women have had to follow mind baffling rules and endure brutal practices.

Teaming up with Damsons Future Planning we complied a list of seven of the most horrifying and shocking rules and obligations that women were forced to comply with.


A popular practice in India was Sati an Indian tradition in which women were expected to jump on the flames of her deceased husband during cremation.

It has been said that this was practised for two reasons, firstly it was done to deter women from murdering their husbands for another lover. Secondly women killed themselves in order to accompany their husbands into the afterlife in case of any opportunist angles.

This was a tradition that woman had to obey even if this meant they had to be dragged onto the flames. Thank fully the Sati method died out in 1811 after a petition was filed to the Indian authorities requesting the ban of Sati.

Papua, Indonesia:

The Dani tribe of Papua, have a ‘unique’ custom when it comes to burying their dead and attending funerals. At a funeral it is customary for a woman to hack their fingers off as offering to the dead.

The ritual is deemed as a gratifying symbol to the dead whilst also igniting physical pain as well as emotional pain. This is an integral part of the grieving process that symbolises affection to the deceased.

The tradition has now been banned but the process of only females maiming themselves for loved ones is a barbaric form of showcasing emotion.

Vikings Death:

This formality is one of the more gruesome and stomach churning funeral traditions that sadly existed and enforced upon women.

When the chief of the Viking clan died a slave girl had to volunteer to join him in the afterlife, effectively volunteering to die.

However it wasn’t only dying that a woman had to endure. Once volunteered the woman was guarded and the day before the funeral she was forced to have sex with each man in the village.

After which the woman was then strangled and stabbed to death by a matriarch. She was then laid next to the chief and set alight in the Viking tradition.

It was a brutal practice all done to ensure the chief had a slave for his journey and afterlife in Valhalla.


Another savage practice involving women was the strangulation funeral once carried out by the Fijians.

It was customary for family members who were close to the deceased, primarily their wives, to die with their loved ones via strangulation.

The Fijians believed that the God, Ruvuyalo would destroy a man’s soul if he entered the afterlife without proof of marriage.

What’s even more disturbing is that a close family member to the wife, usually her brother would be the one strangling the widow. If the brother refused he would be shunned and shamed by the village, in particular by the deceased family members.

Men on the other hand had it much easier. They were required to cut their beard off and place it under their wife’s armpit. His beard was deemed as evidence of marriage to their God whereas a woman was expected to sacrifice her life to prove their marriage.

Clearly this is a cruel and unjust practice that was ten times worse for women, it was eventually abolished for fairer and more humane burials.


It is customary and widely expected that at a funeral in Taiwan there are showgirls and strippers present.

In Taiwan a man’s wealth and social status is measured by how many people attend their funeral. An ironic notion given that they are dead. However the method proved highly effective when it came to driving up attendees.

The entire affair showcases women as sex symbols in order to prove a man’s wealth to the community. Whilst still in operation the government are cracking down on such affairs however women are still in demand.

For many cultures this tradition has been described as undignified and disrespectful however is it because a stripper is present or because it’s disrespectful to the woman?

Ancient Greece

Funeral practices in Ancient Greek were much more respectful and fairer to women. The entire funeral process was actually carried out by women with them conducting the three main rituals.

A woman was expected to lay out the body (prosthesis), carry on the funeral procession (ekphora) and take care of the burial or cremated remains.

Whilst a woman conducting a funeral service is acceptable today, such traditions would have been unthinkable just a few hundred years later.

Compared to other traditions this a much saner practice that had women put to work rather than put to death. The caring nature of women deemed them suitable to carry out such work and death was mourned but not at the expense of another person’s life.


Funeral traditions in Britain weren’t barbaric but they did control women forcing them to adhere to strict guidelines or face social shunning. Women actually had manuals on how to mourn death, what to wear, how to act and how long they had to mourn for.

The majority of households had a copy of The Queen and Cassell’s a guide to life. Not only covering funeral etiquette but etiquette for parties, functions, day to day activities and even how to greet and converse with men.

In the book it states that when a woman’s husband died she had to dress in black for at least six months. After that period she may enter half mourning and wear subtle, dark coloured dresses and certain jewellery for another six to eight months. During which time she wasn’t permitted to attend balls or parties and couldn’t be seen with any husband potential men.

In some cases women weren’t even allowed to attend funerals if they were deemed too hysterical. While the funeral procession was on going a woman was expected to stay at home and wait until the affair was over.

Britain followed a very traditional view that was used to manipulate and control the minds of women. Something which died out very quickly once women started speaking up for themselves.     

All around the world women have been deemed as inferior and often subjected to barbaric and demanding rules and rituals. Whether that be self-sacrifice, hacking off body parts or being manipulated into conforming to society, it hasn’t been easy.

With persistence and dedication women have changed mind sets, rallied for equal rights and continue to push barriers in a bid for a fairer society.

While life has improved for most there are still obstacles that face women today. As International Woman’s Day approaches women are rallying for boldness with this year’s theme being ‘Be Bold For Change’ campaign.

International Woman’s Day is on 8th March, 2017 and will be about giving women the courage to reach their potential. We may have had it brutal and we may still have barriers that need to be broken however we are a powerful force, history proves that.

For more information go to the International Woman’s Day website.

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!