Wire mesh cages piled high in deep dark alleyways, its occupants whining pitifully, their big brown eyes pleading for release. Some of them adored family pets reportedly stolen, others unfortunate strays, their fate sealed.
Characteristic of the violence Portrayed in the Yulin dog meat festival the public slaughter of dogs and even cats is one of the most unforgivable acts masquerading as culture.
Streets awash with blood, the dogs are often even burnt alive or immersed in vats of boiling oil. All this to achieve just the right flavor for the dog stew.
The Yulin lychee and dog meat festival has gained an infamous reputation evoking the criticism and ire of the international community especially animal rights activists.
The senseless massacre of defenseless dogs and the gratuitous violence on the streets of Gunag xi China – has led to an uproar among animal lovers who have been clamoring to put an end to this festival once and for all. However much to their dismay the yulin dog meat festival went off without a hitch in June 2015,the count of our furry victims reached almost as many as 10,000 dogs this year.
The animals are procured entirely from the black market, most dogs stolen from their homes and sold to meet the demands of the festival.
They are bound and gagged cramped into small cages and transported from neighboring areas. Highly susceptible to diseases in the close quarters, these animals are often ailing or aged and therefore not fit for consumption. Epidemics of rabies etc. are feared among human rights activists who feel this wanton consumption could in the near future lead to health risks.
The people’s desensitization to the violence meted out to the dogs is one of the most disheartening aspects of this festival.
However it is imperative to analyze whether or not the international community is overstepping its bounds in demanding the ban on the festival.
Culturally significant for the people of Guang xi to them eating dog meat is nothing out of the ordinary while internationally, consuming -“mans best friend” is unthinkable. Therefore the people’s claim of excessive intervention in their traditional heritage does seem to have some merit to it.
Culturally across the globe diversity reigns supreme with Nepal (ironically) even recently having a festival dedicated to the worship of dogs. Similarly the delicate issue of cow slaughter in India, which has been banned in certain states, has met with a lot of criticism.
This is because the cow is sacred to the Hindu population but the consumption of beef has been restricted for other sects and religions as well. This move is therefore viewed as unfair and infringing on the rights of culture and religion of the Muslim minority who consume beef regularly.
As the above example illustrates habits of consumption vary regionally and culturally and to embrace multiculturalism one needs to create an atmosphere for tolerance and acceptance within all communities. We have to strive to attain a balance between cultural vibrancy and public morality and health.
Therefore while violence and ruthless public slaughter of the dogs in the festival should be condemned and banned, the question of eating dog meat And raising dogs for slaughter has more dimensions to it.
Globally we see a variety of animals raised for slaughter like cows, goats, chicken etc. therefore keeping this in mind is it justified to plead a special case for dogs and cats because of their status as household pets?
This idea though uncomfortable to entertain has to be seen from the point of view of the inhabitants of Guang xi for whom consumption of dog meat has been normalized.
Therefore while the Yulin dog festival cannot and should not continue as it has with its senseless acts of sadism and barbarity, regulation in terms raising these animals for slaughter (not relying on the horrific idea to use household pets), ensuring their health and setting rules for legalized trade in dog meat have to be top priority.
Thus a compromise has to be reached with the international community acknowledging the culture and tradition of Guang xi on one hand, and the need to reign in the savagery of the festival on the other -realizing that it has no place in the world community today.
-By Nitika Bakshi