By Aroha Kadyan, law student from OP Jindal Global University
As rightly said by Theodor Adorno, “Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughter house and says they’re only animals”. The Jewish community in Nazi Germany was incinerated to death in gas chambers, which was a boundless manifestation of savagery and brutality. Little or no difference can be found if we juxtaposed this situation with that of animals in slaughter houses, except for the fact that one situation includes human beings and the other, animal species.
Animal cruelty is a term used to denote such atrocious, barbaric actions of humans which jeopardizes the health and well-being of animals. It is a heinous practice manifested in almost every sphere in society, be it for entertainment or leisurely purposes (such as zoos and circuses), or using them as labor (such as in farms, for travelling, etc.). In many instances, their basic requirements such as food and water are not met, and they are unable to receive minimal nourishment and nutrition. This leads to malnutrition, diseases, and even death in many cases. They are kept under excruciating conditions, and are subjected to harassment and torture by their masters, and are also beaten up at multiple instances.
Various organizations have come into existence globally, with an objective of alleviating the condition of animals in the society and defining certain rights owed to them. Some of these organizations include PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), People for Animals, among others. In context of Indian legislations, provisions and penalties with regard to cruelty against animals have been listed under Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC. Section 39 of the Wildlife Protection Act bars affliction of any form of damage or harm to wildlife (i.e., animals or plants). Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was also instituted in 1960 with a similar objective.
Despite the inception of myriad organizations and legislations worldwide, there still prevail perpetual forms of atrocities that the animals go through each and every day. This makes people who placed their faith in the legal systems and organizations question the efficiency and operation of such organizations and legal systems. There exist endless examples which prove that in spite of the initiation of such organizations and laws, humans prove themselves to be remorseless and often absolutely callous towards animals.
A substantial number of animals are used for experimentation and testing in laboratories for purposes such as cosmetic testing, teaching biology, food items, etc. which leads to their subsequent death in many cases. They are slaughtered and butchered in order to obtain meat for human consumption, for fur and leather to make clothing items, purses, shoes, etc. and other products such as eggs and milk are also obtained using various other procedures which many a times involve injecting them with chemical substances. They are bred are reared in farms and are used as per the wish of the master to perform various agrarian activities, and are also used for transporting goods or people through long distances.
Human beings have majorly contributed to an appalling deterioration in the condition and well-being of animal species due to such human activities which have led to global warming, change in climatic conditions, extensive pollution, and an imbalance in the ecological systems in its entirety. Large-scale deforestation has led to a loss of their original habitats and has led some animal species to migrate into the areas of human settlement. Pollution of various kinds causes diseases and flus among the species, and global warming is responsible for melting of icebergs in Polar regions.
Human beings as a species have failed to take into account the agony and suffering that they are causing to animal species. By causing an imbalance in the environmental system, they have not only neglected wildlife habitats, but also have jeopardized their own existence. Animals possess lesser power, and are metaphorically “voiceless”. Therefore, this places an obligation on privileged sections of society like us to give them a chance to be heard and alleviate their living conditions. Humans have a fair idea of what pain feels like, yet they impose it on animals and dominate every aspect of their life. They fail to take into account the fact that animals too, like humans, are living beings. They need nourishment, warmth, and compassion from humans. One should be considerate and humane when it comes to treating animals. There exists a symbiotic relationship between them and their ecosystem (which includes wildlife and plant life), i.e., Plants, animals and humans are co-dependent for their sustenance. Such a reciprocating relationship will cease to exist if they continue to be heedless to what the ecology asks of them.
Some instances are so despicable that they are sure to bring one to tears. In some traditional communities, there are rituals which require the people to perform sacrifices on animals such as rabbits, dogs, goats, etc. Chemical experimenting leads to rats being poisoned and rabbits losing their eyes to burning. People often abandon their pets, leaving them on streets to succumb to their death. Birds have their feathers plucked and are butchered alive. Elephants are hunted down for their tusks and ivory, which is then used to produce ornaments, jewelry, etc. And of course, the most known practice is that of butchering chickens, pigs, etc. for meat. These are just a few instances among many other brutal ones. The question that arises here is – What are we doing about it? Readers are sure to be pitiful and sorrowful realizing the existence of such heinous practices worldwide. But is sympathy and pity what the animals need from them? Acts of sympathy leads many to donate money to animal charities and organizations. But are these funds actually being administered in the right direction? Will such brutalities carry on for eternity? Who is accountable for such actions? I will leave it to the reader to ponder upon such questions.