Necrophilia is indeed a highly sensitive and rarely discussed topic in our
nation, primarily due to its rarity as a crime. With just one or two reported
cases each year in a country with over one billion people, it raises important
questions for lawmakers about when an individual's rights cease to exist.
area of study remains largely unexplored. Historical records and a few case
studies suggest that necrophilia is profoundly destructive, affecting not only
the individual with the condition but also society as a whole. In essence,
necrophilia represents an attraction to deceased beings, either sexually or
asexually, and it is categorized as a paraphilic disorder.
It is considered a
violation of the rights of the deceased, who have the right to a respectful
funeral. Given its infringement on the rights of individuals, necrophilia
becomes a topic of legal discussion. Many countries have already established
laws and punishments for necrophilia. However, as of now, there has been no
substantial dialogue in India regarding the necessity of implementing specific
legislation to address this matter. The rarity of such cases in the country may
be one reason why the legal framework has not yet addressed the issue.
On September 19, 1995, a disturbing incident occurred at the mortuary of Forest
Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills. Two individuals reportedly broke into the
mortuary and engaged in sexual intercourse with two deceased female bodies. The
following day, the police announced that the two men were being held on
suspicion of burglary.
Notably, the two men were not charged with having
intercourse with a corpse because, at that time, engaging in sexual acts with a
corpse was not explicitly illegal or any offence under California law1.
Consequently, the charges against the individuals were limited to breaking into
the mortuary and stealing computer chips from a personal computer within the
Same happened in 2011 in Pakistan when a grave keeper named Muhammad Rizwan from north Nazimabad, Karachi was arrested after he confessed to raping
48-year-old female corpse but in Pakistan they have no any provisions of
punishment on forming sexual relation with corpse hence later, he gets
India is also grappling with a legal quandary concerning necrophilia. Every
year, one or two cases reach the doors of the court, but due to the absence of
specific legislation to address necrophiliac matters, the judiciary struggles to
provide justice to the victims.
Under sec 21 of Indian constitution every person has right to get proper funeral
according to their religious customs and traditions and necrophiliac acts
violating this right of an individual. In 1989, a significant legal precedent
was set by the Supreme Court of India in the landmark case of Parmanand Katara
v. Union of India, the court ruled that the right to life, fair treatment, and
dignity also extend to a deceased body[ii]. These rights find their foundation
in Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Many legal systems are constructed on the foundation of preserving cultural
values, ensuring public harmony, and safeguarding the rights and welfare of
people. In many instances, engaging in negrophilic activities is regarded as a
direct violation of these core principles so it must be a punishable offence
under Indian penal code (I.P.C).
But The Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not explicitly list necrophilia as a
separate crime. In the absence of a specific legal provision addressing
necrophilia, the court, in this instance, considered the act as a form of
necrophilia, which involves sexual intercourse with a deceased body.
The word necrophilia comes from the Greek words Philios means attraction to or
love and Nekros means dead body. It's also known as Necrophilism, Necrocoitus,
Necrochlesis, Necrolagnia, Thanatophilia.
According to the dictionary of Merriam Webster, Necrophilia is an "obsession
with and usually erotic interest in or stimulation by corpses".[iii]
In Cambridge dictionary meaning of Necrophilia is "being sexually attracted to
dead bodies, or sexual activity with dead bodies".[iv]
Historical background of Necrophilia
Necrophilia is considered an ancient practice, with historical evidence
suggesting its existence for many years. In the 1980s, archaeologists discovered
paintings in the pyramids of the Moche civilization, often referred to as the
"Greeks of the Andes," depicting sexual acts involving the deceased.
Additionally, there are beliefs that certain civilizations incorporated
necrophilia into their traditions or rituals. These practices reflect the
diverse and sometimes unsettling aspects of human history and cultural beliefs.
Throughout history, there have been documented incidents of necrophilia. One
such historical account comes from the Greek author Herodotus (c. 484-425 BC)[v],
who mentioned in his work "Histories" that in Ancient Egypt, a practice was
observed where exceptionally beautiful women were not immediately embalmed upon
their deaths. Instead, embalming was delayed for several days to prevent a
recurrence of an incident where it was discovered that an embalmer had engaged
in sexual activity with the body of a recently deceased woman[vi].
In Morden era there are also some serious cases on necrophilia. Among all serial
murderers, Ted Bundy from America is one of the most well-known, and necrophilia
was on his list of repulsive crimes. Lynette Culver, a 12-year-old from Idaho,
was killed by Bundy in 1975, marking the first known incident of his having sex
with a corpse.
While it's generally noted that the majority of necrophiles are male, Karen
Greenlee stands out as a noteworthy exception. Greenlee held a position as an
apprentice embalmer at the Sacramento Memorial Lawn mortuary. In 1979, at the
age of 23, she openly admitted to engaging in sexual acts with 20 to 40 deceased
Notably, at that time, necrophilia was not a criminal offense
in the state of California. Nevertheless, Greenlee faced legal consequences and
was convicted for unlawfully operating a hearse and disrupting a burial due to
her involvement in the abduction of a 33-year-old man's body[vii].
The most popular cases which have been reported belongs to western counties as
now they have specific statutes to deal with negrophilic crimes. These kinds of
crimes are not only limited to western countries. In Pakistan 2021, a
freshly-buried teenage girl in the Maulvi Ashraf Chandio village near the
coastal town of Ghulamullah was raped by unknown men after digging out the body.
The victim family stated that a local goon the son of the village landlord was
the main perpetrator in the heinous crime[viii].
Cross-National Examination of Necrophilia Laws
Necrophilia, considered one of the most heinous crimes, surprisingly remains
without legal consequences in many countries. However, in those nations that
place a significant emphasis on upholding the dignity of deceased bodies, they
have established legal provisions for the punishment of necrophiliac acts to
deter and prevent such heinous crimes from occurring.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of necrophilia from diverse viewpoints, let's examine the legal systems of various countries concerning this issue:
Article 212 of the Brazilian Penal Code - To abuse a cadaver or its ashes: Penalty: detention, from 1 to 3 years, plus fine.[ix]
In New Zealand, the law explicitly addresses the issue of "misconduct with human remains." According to Section 50 of the Crimes Act, 1961, individuals can face a sentence of up to 2 years in prison for any actions that compromise the dignity of a deceased body, whether it is buried or unburied.[x]
The South African government has effectively enacted legislation to classify necrophilia as a criminal offense. Specifically, Section 14 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007, explicitly prohibits engaging in a sexual act with a corpse.[xi]
In Sweden, necrophilia is criminalized under the Swedish Penal Code, although it is not explicitly mentioned. Instead, necrophilia is addressed within the regulations that pertain to abusing a corpse or grave. Engaging in necrophilia in Sweden carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
Section 70 of the Sexual Offences Act, 2003, criminalizes sexual penetration of a corpse and imposes a maximum punishment of imprisonment not exceeding two years.[xii]
There is no federal law that classifies necrophilia as a criminal offense. However, individual states have their own legislations addressing this issue. For instance, in Washington, necrophilia is considered a felony. In Nevada, it is also penalized as a felony. In contrast, in Texas and Hawaii, engaging in necrophilia is categorized as a misdemeanor.
There is a concept of ghost marriage in France which they believe it belongs very soon before Magna carta where they perform marriage with death bodies and this is known as necrogamy. This is legal according to Article 171 of their Civil Code which is very odd.[xiii]
Necrophilia is not explicitly mentioned in Australian law. Under New South Wales' Crimes Act 1900 penalized for misconduct about corpses is any person who indecently interferes with any dead human body or improperly interferes with, or offers any indignity to, any dead human body or human remains (whether buried or not, and shall be liable to imprisonment for two years.[xiv]
Indian and Necrophilia
India is among the countries that hold the dignity of deceased bodies in regard,
as reflected in Article 21, which guarantees the right to life[xv]. However,
there is currently no specific legislation that addresses the punishment for
necrophiliac acts in the country. Some have suggested that it could potentially
fall under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which pertains to
unnatural acts, or Section 297 of the IPC, which penalizes trespass in places of
worship, burial grounds, or crematoriums.
Nevertheless, it's essential to note that the legal interpretation, including a
recent clarification from the Karnataka High Court in case Rangaraj Vajapeyi vs
state of Karnataka, asserts that necrophilia does not neatly fit within these
sections, as they do not explicitly address this particular act[xvi]. This
situation highlights a notable gap in the Indian judicial system, which calls
for further examination and potential legal reform.
Individuals afflicted by this condition often exhibit a proclivity for seeking
employment within mortuaries, cemeteries, and cremation facilities. This
occupational choice allows them to maintain direct and sustained contact with
deceased individuals, thus affording them the opportunity to satiate their
desire for such interactions as and when they deem fit. So that case of Rangaraj
Vajapeyi vs state of Karnataka, the court also ordered the installation of CCTV
in Karnataka mortgage within 6 months and directed the government to maintain
hygiene and a privacy, ensure the security of a clinical record and information
and sensitize mortuary staff.
It is crucial to have punishment provisions on necrophiliac acts, even though
only 2 or 3 cases are reported in India each year. Due to the infrequency of
reported cases, the government may not be giving this issue adequate attention.
It's imperative to emphasize that safeguarding the rights of an individual is
just as vital as protecting the rights of society as a whole.
Right Of Corpse Under Article 21
Living individuals are accorded a range of rights under various laws and
statutes. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the protection of
life and personal liberty to its citizens, encompassing rights such as the right
to travel abroad, right to privacy, right against solitary confinement, right to
legal aid, and the right to health, among others. These rights are inherent in
individuals and are constitutionally guaranteed, with any denial subject to due
The Supreme Court, through a series of cases and the most popular one is
Parmanand Katara, Advocate v. Union of India & Anr,
has upheld the principle
that the right to dignity and fair treatment enshrined in Article 21 of the
Constitution of India extends not only to a living person but also to their body
after death. The term "person" in Article 21 is construed to encompass a
deceased individual in a limited sense.
This perspective acknowledges that a
deceased person's rights to life, which include the right to live with human
dignity, extend to the respectful treatment of their body, in line with their
traditions, culture, and religion. Furthermore, this imposes an obligation on
the State to ensure the adherence to these principles and standards.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a disturbing incident unfolded wherein deceased
bodies were found disposed of in the Ganga River. This situation once again
underscored the significance of upholding the rights and dignity of the
Rangaraj Vajapeji vs state of Karnataka
The case pertains to the purported homicide of a 21-year-old woman named
Rathnamma, with the petitioner, Rangaraju Vajapeyi, facing allegations of
engaging in sexual assault before the act of murder.
The trial court's decision to impose a life imprisonment sentence for the murder
offense under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code was confirmed by the
Karnataka High Court. Nevertheless, the Karnataka High Court acquitted the
defendant of the charges under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. This
acquittal was based on the reasoning that there is no specific provision in the
Indian Penal Code that addresses the act of sexually assaulting a deceased body.
The Karnataka High Court also provided a clarification that engaging in
necrophilia, which involves having sexual intercourse with a corpse, is not
encompassed by the provisions of Section 377 (pertaining to unnatural offenses)
or Section 297 (related to trespassing on burial grounds) of the Indian Penal Code[xviii].
The bench, in its recommendations, suggested that the government should explore
the possibility of amending or introducing a new law to address and penalize
such acts. Consequently, it urged the Central Government to consider amending
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to encompass offenses related to the bodies
of deceased individuals, whether they be men, women, or animals.
proposed the creation of a separate provision to address offenses against
deceased women, such as necrophilia or sadism, similar to the legal frameworks
established in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
The Nithari case also known as Surendra koli vs state of U.P, commonly referred
to as the 2006 Noida serial murders, unfolded between 2005 and 2006 within the
residence of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher. In this case, Pandher's
domestic helper, Surinder Koli, faced accusations of enticing children to the
house using sweets and chocolates. Subsequently, he would subject them to sexual
abuse and ultimately commit murder. Pandher himself was also implicated in some
of these cases as an alleged accomplice.
Necrophilia played a notable role in the Nithari case
. The individual accused in
this case confessed to both killing a woman and sexually abusing her corpse.
However, it's crucial to note that he was solely convicted of the murder charge
and not rape. This outcome was due to the absence of a specific legal provision
for necrophilia as a criminal offense in India [xix].
Other popular cases:
Recommendation to protects the dignity of the dead:
- Vampire of Muy
Victor Ardisson, also known as the "Vampire of Muy," worked as an undertaker and
gravedigger in the small town of Muy within the Provence region of France. Over
the years, he committed numerous acts of necrophilia. When he was eventually
apprehended, Ardisson confessed to having engaged in sexual acts with more than
100 corpses that he had been responsible for. He also admitted to frequently
exhuming bodies and transporting them to his residence [xx].
- Ted Bundy:
Ted Bundy (1946-1989) was a notorious American serial killer of the 1970s,
responsible for the rape and murder of no fewer than 30 young women.
Additionally, he admitted to engaging in necrophilic behavior, Lynette Culver, a
12-year-old from Idaho, was killed by Bundy in 1975, marking the first known
incident of his having sex with a corpse [xxi].
- Karen Greenlee:
Greenlee served as an apprentice embalmer at Sacramento Memorial Lawn mortuary.
In 1979, at the age of 23, she admitted to engaging in sexual acts with 20 to 40
deceased male individuals. It's important to note that at the time, necrophilia
was not a crime in California. Consequently, her conviction was related to
unlawfully operating a hearse and obstructing a burial when she took possession
of a 33-year-old man's body. Her legal punishment consisted of an 11-month jail
sentence, a 2-month probation period, and a fine of $255[xxii].
- David Fuller:
David Fuller, a British man, garnered notoriety in 2021 after being found guilty
of the murder of three women. His case has brought attention to the issue of
necrophilia, a crime that, until relatively recently, remained largely
unaddressed in British law. Presently, necrophilia is punishable by a maximum
prison term of just two years. Advocates, including the mother of one of
Fuller's victims, are advocating for a substantial increase in sentences,
proposing a minimum of 10 years as a more fitting penalty for this deeply
The following recommendations address the need for legal measures and
infrastructure improvements in response to the issues related to sexual abuse,
sexual intercourse, and other disturbing acts involving deceased bodies,
particularly in cases of necrophilia:
The government should introduce a new section in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that specifically addresses the punishment for individuals involved in any form of sexual abuse, sexual intercourse, or any other disturbing act with a deceased body.
- In cases of necrophiliac crimes, the punishment should not be less than a three-year imprisonment, or with fine or without fine
- To enhance surveillance and security, the installation of CCTV cameras should be mandated in mortuaries across the entire country.
- Specialized sections within hospitals, rehabilitation centres, and mental health facilities should be established to address the unique needs and treatment of individuals grappling with such disorders.
- There is a need for ongoing and thorough research to comprehend and address individuals with necrophiliac tendencies.
- Law enforcement personnel should undergo specialized training that equips them to effectively manage and interact with individuals afflicted by these disorders, as well as to properly detain them when necessary.
the penalization of necrophilia is an urgent and vital matter that transcends
the boundaries of conventional legal discourse. As this article has explored,
necrophilia represents a unique challenge, requiring a delicate balance between
punitive measures and considerations for rehabilitation. Addressing this issue
not only serves to protect the rights and dignity of the deceased but also
reinforces the moral and ethical fabric of society.
The recommendations provided in this article, including the introduction of a
specific IPC section with punitive measures and the enhancement of
infrastructure, underscore the necessity for a comprehensive approach to
combatting necrophilia. It is crucial not only for the victims and their
families but for the broader moral fabric of our society.
In doing so, we strike
a balance between punishment and rehabilitation, recognizing the multifaceted
nature of this issue. In a society that values the sanctity of the individual,
the penalization of necrophilia is not only a legal necessity but a moral
By addressing this issue robustly, we strive to ensure the
protection of the deceased, the preservation of societal values, and the
rehabilitation of those afflicted by this challenging condition. As the legal
landscape evolves to accommodate these needs, society takes a significant step
towards a more just and compassionate future.
- Frank B. Williams, Two Valley Men Arrested In Sex Assault On Corpses: Crime: Phares Gonzales And Brandon Christopher Held On Suspicion Of Burglary At Hollywood Hills Mortuary., Sept. 20, 1995 12 Am Pt, Los Angeles Times, < https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-09-20-me-47975-story.html >
- Pakistan: Men Dig Up Grave Of A Woman And Rape The Dead Body A Day After Burial, 5 November, 2019, Opindia.Com < Https://Www.Opindia.Com/2019/11/Pakistan-Grave-Dug-Rape-Woman-Grave-Necrophilia-Karachi/ >
- "Necrophilia" < https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/necrophilia >
- Brill, Abraham A. (1941). "Necrophilia". Journal of Criminal Psychopathology, 433-443
- Herodotus (c. 440 BC) (July 2001). The Histories (Book 2). Archived from the original on 7 October 2019. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- John (19 December 1979). "Stolen Body and Hearse Recovered". The Sacramento Bee. Vol. 244, no. 40513. p. B1. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
- Pakistan: Unidentified Men Dig Up The Grave Of A Teenage Woman And Rape Her Corpse, 17 Accused Being Interrogated, Investigation Underway, 7 May, 2022, Opindia.Com < Https://Www.Opindia.Com/2022/05/Pakistan-Dig-Up-Grave-Teenage-Woman-Rape-Her-Corpse/ >
- Penal Code of Brazil,1940
- Crimes act, 1961 < https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM327382.html >
- Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007< https://www.gov.za/documents/criminal-law-sexual-offences-and-related-matters-amendment-act >
- Sexual Offences Act, 2003,
- civil code of France,
- New South Wales' Crimes Act 1900, < https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-1900-040 >
- Permanand katara v. union of India
- Rangaraj Vajapeyi vs state of Karnataka
- Indian penal code, 1860
- Surendra koli vs state of U.P,
- Theresa Cheung. The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires. HarperCollins UK. p. 49.
- Molinari, Christina (August 2005). Necrophilic and Necrophagic Serial Killers: Understanding Their Motivations through Case Study Analysis. Florida Gulf Coast University. pp. 59-60.
- John (19 December 1979). "Stolen Body and Hearse Recovered". The Sacramento Bee. Vol. 244, no. 40513. p. B1. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
- "Hospital electrician convicted of cold-case double murder and 51 sexual offences". Crown Prosecution Service. 15 December 2021.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Suraj Gupta, Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), New Law College, Pune
Authentication No: JN437835998853-12-0124