Why a march to close all slaughterhouses?
- Published: 17 June 2014
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Hundreds of activists marched through the streets of Sydney last Saturday, as part of a global initiative calling for the closure of all slaughterhouses. The move was met with mixed responses from the animal rights and social justice communities, with some questioning the strategy. Animal Liberation NSW campaigner and psychologist Emma Hurst explained why we need an end to slaughter houses in a powerful speech at the Sydney event.
18 June 2014
She falls onto the sticking table. He grabs her left ear and drags her closer to him. He then grabs her left arm and pulls it up towards her face. She kicks a few times with her legs in an effort to free herself. He holds her ear and arm in one hand as he reaches across to retrieve a metal bar.
He releases his hold on her, and lifts the metal bar high and with full force he smashes it down across the ear he just released. He hits her again and again- each hit more forceful and violent than the last.
He rests his other hand down so he can swing at her head with more power – and smashes the metal bar across the side of her face three more times. He stops. Then moves himself around to lean over her- closer to her now he places his left hand across her throat and holds her body down. She thrashes her legs in the air several times as he calmly watches her.
His body rocks from side to side each time she thrashes – they move in unison. He turns away momentarily and looks into the distance as she continues to struggle. Then he leans down slightly so his face is near her head – another smack with the metal bar – on the top of her head this time. He holds her to the table by pushing down on her left shoulder.
He then twists his arm that’s holding the metal bar underneath his other arm so he can hit her again from another angle. He brings the metal bar back to its original position and hits her three times hard across the left side of her head. He grabs her by the ear again and pulls her around to another angle.
He smashes her twice more and then releases her. As he pulls away he looks at her limp body and drops the metal bar in a basin. He takes her arms and turns her body around. A knife sits amongst the blood and mess on the table where she was fighting for her life – he picks this up then reaches over and cuts the tendons on her right foot.
Her lifeless body shows no response. She is then hung by one leg and processed and sent to supermarkets and somebody, probably several people, ate her.
The scene I described was one from Hawkesbury abattoir, west of Sydney in 2012 after hidden cameras caught up to 100 incidences of animal cruelty.
She is the story of one pig. Many others met a similar fate. And not just at this establishment – footage from around the world provides evidence that this scene is not uncommon.
I could stand here today and talk about the lack of rules and regulations – mass production issues for increased profit, repeat cases of extreme abuse part and parcel of the ‘culture’ of the slaughterhouse. Yet we still come across this term: humane slaughter.
Often it is argued that the way to end the injustice of slaughter is through the use of formal regulation. But reforming injustice is simply delaying justice.
While slaughter continues, justice will never be found. Because it is not simply the inherent cruelty that occurs at slaughterhouses- but just the simple act of slaughter itself that causes the problem.
From birth to death, the lives of animals raised for the purpose of so-called humane consumption, are lives characterised by fear, pain, deprivation, suffering and stress.
We only need to look as far as the slaughterhouse workers themselves to see the oxymoron of the term ‘humane slaughter’. A slaughterhouse worker quoted in the book 'Slaughterhouse' states:
“Pigs on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them – beat them to death with a pipe.”
Rare vision, from a British documentary, The Task of Blood, contained interviews with the people tasked with taking the lives of these animals. One of these men stated:
“I kill animals for a living, all day, every day, and I really like my job. You can get away with murder every day and not get arrested for it. Some people think I’m sick [doing] what I do. But they don’t think I’m sick when it’s on their plate.”
Later he is seen holding a knife towards the neck of a sheep. He turns and smiles to the camera. “This is the fun part,” he says as he slashes the knife across the sheep’s throat.
Yet often the story of each of these animals remains untold.
I didn’t tell you the story of the pig at Hawkesbury to shock or hurt you. I told you her story so you could also share her story.
The excuse “I didn’t know” is far too commonly heard. The scene I described was televised and her story travelled around the world. A poll carried out by the Sydney Morning Herald found that 38% of people said they were considering going vegetarian after seeing or hearing of her fate.
We must continue to tell her story and the stories of others. We must be their voice – and soon no one can use the excuse, “I just didn’t know…”
Emma Hurst is campaign manager at Animal Liberation NSW in Sydney.
Video and images, courtesy of Gaspar Rodriguez of Gaspar Inc.
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