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5 Reasons To Focus On Farmed Animals In 2018

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The spectrum of animal rights is vast – animals are abused for food, clothing, accessories, science, religion and entertainment. Among these, the animals raised for food, receive the least amount of attention and are the most abused.

Why don’t farmed animals receive the level of empathy and compassion that we bestow upon other animals?

Science has confirmed that farmed animals too are sentient beings, who just like us have the ability to feel various emotions.

In India, 1.2 million farmed animals are killed for food every hour. More than 180 million male chicks are killed every year because they can’t lay eggs. In 2014, more than 372.3 million cattle were exploited for their milk and later slaughtered for their meat. Here are some more startling figures.

Here are a few reasons why we also need to focus on farmed animals in 2018.

1. Lack Of Deterrents

Having rules with adequate penalties to alleviate the suffering of farmed animals is a basic requirement which every developed country has in place. But India is still lagging behind.

The few instances when the government introduced measures in the recent past, were withdrawn or they are intending to withdraw due to pressure from the meat and related industries.

  • Court orders not followed 

The Supreme Court, in its order on May 7, 2014, reiterated that animals are sentient beings and directed that:

  1. The Parliament must provide adequate penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 but the penalty has not been revised since 1960 and it is still ₹50.
  2. The Parliament to elevate the rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.
  3. The five freedoms to be read into Sections 3 and Section 11 of the PCA Act, be protected and safeguarded by the governments.

  • India is a signatory to Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) but the suffering of animals is unprecedented 

The UDAW is a proposed inter-governmental agreement to recognise that animals are sentient, to prevent cruelty and reduce suffering, and to promote standards on the welfare of animals such as farmed animals.

2. Animal Agriculture Leads To Inefficient Use Of Resources

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reported that nearly 805 million people were chronically undernourished between 2012 and 2014. That means the every ninth human being does not have enough to eat. India is one of the leading countries facing severe hunger and malnutrition crisis.

Our meat consumption is partly responsible for this. Approximately 80% of global soya and 40-50% of global corn crops are fed to animals in factory farms, instead of feeding people who are suffering from hunger or malnutrition.

Around 5kgs of plant protein is fed to chickens to obtain 1kg of animal protein. What we do not realise is that 20 vegetarians can be fed on the amount of land required to feed one non-vegetarian. It takes 18,927 litres of water to produce half-kilo of beef, while only 185 litres is used to produce half a kilo of apples.

The world population has reached 7.5 billion, but if corn was distributed equally around the globe, an additional three billion people could still be fed. Yet, instead of distributing the plentiful plant food more efficiently and equitably, it is fed to western nations’ farm animals to allow meat consumption by the privileged few.

If all people on earth followed a western diet, we would need a second planet to satisfy this demand. But we only have one and, as the population continues to grow, we will have to share it with even more people.

3. Animal Agriculture Misuses Water, A Valuable Resource

Meat and dairy production use enormous quantities of water, which is a valuable and an increasingly limited resource. In fact, we waste one-third (30%) of all available freshwater resources on the production of meat and dairy products.

A UN report has predicted that as many as 3.4 billion people will be living in water-scarce countries by 2025 and India will be the centre of this conflict. Another case study done in India and three other countries say there will be no drinking water by 2040 if consumption of water continues at the current pace.

Dairy, leather and meat industries are destroying our environment so rapidly, that experts fear that the damage would be irrevocable within a couple of decades. There are also numerous reports about how animal agriculture leads to water pollution.

4. Illegal And Cruel Practices Are Rampant In Animal Agriculture

The meat, egg and dairy industries frequently use cruel and illegal methods to maximize their profits.

  • Eggs

The Indian egg industry still uses cruel and illegal battery cages, where up to four to six hens are crammed into a cage the size of two A-4 sheets of paper. They often trample each other due to lack of space. Hens suffer from sore, cracked and deformed feet due to the wired floor of the cages. They are not given required medical care. It is a routine practice to mix antibiotics in their feed. The illegal practice of ‘forced molting’ is frequently practised to increase egg production.

Male chicks are burnt, drowned or ground up alive because they are not profitable to the egg industry.

  • Dairy

Dairies in India keep animals tied, which forces them to sit in their own faeces for long periods of time. Workers have been documented beating, kicking, punching and pinching the sensitive genitals of cows and buffaloes.

The maternal bond is the same across all mammals. But the calf is separated from the mother immediately after birth, so that he doesn’t drink any milk. This separation causes emotional distress for both mother and offspring. Male calves are either sold for slaughter or starved to death as they do not produce any milk and add to the cost of the dairy owner.

In order to save costs, the dairy owners do not provide the required medical care for animals. Many animals were seen with injuries or suffering from untreated diseases.

  • Meat

Chicken meat producers use illegal growth hormones and antibiotics to rapidly increase the weight of the chickens. The excess weight brings undue pressure on their legs and cripples them.

As per the Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food businesses) Regulation, 2011, animals including chickens must be slaughtered at a licensed slaughterhouse, but this is being infringed almost everywhere.

Veterinary official issue a ‘fit for slaughter’ certificate but workers themselves usually mark the animals for slaughter. Many active slaughterhouses are illegal and do not bother implementing the animal welfare, food safety, environment and infrastructure standards.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 states that animals have to be stunned prior to slaughter, which is never practised while slaughtering animals.

In the slaughterhouses, it can take many minutes for an animal to finally die. The butchers repeatedly slit the animal’s throat resulting in severe shock. It’s a routine act to kill an animal in full view of others waiting in the queue. It is also noticed that the animals are alive while they are skinned.

  • Fishes

The commercial fishing industry is highly unregulated. This has resulted in the adoption of many harmful practices, many of which violate animal welfare laws and are dangerous for the environment. Fishermen use poison or dynamite to kill fish.

Billions of fish are confined to small and filthy ponds, where they have insufficient space to move. A process called “eyestalk ablation” is used to boost the egg production of prawn and shrimp, where their eyes are gouged out by fingernails.

Overfishing is yet another serious problem that needs to be addressed in 2018, with one survey stating that “90% of the oceans’ big fish have disappeared due to overfishing.”

5. Food Safety Violations And Its Health Implications

At farms, dead and diseased animals are kept confined with the healthy animals. Milk, eggs and meat are derived in such unhygienic conditions where bacteria flourishes. This gives rise to many problems that most people don’t realise. Some are listed below:

  • Salmonella

Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning. It can be found in meat, milk and eggs. This bacteria thrives because of unhygienic rearing practices and lack of quality control measures. Salmonella infections cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, abdominal cramps, headache and fever.

  • Overuse of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance

The feed for chickens is laced with antibiotics to stimulate unnatural growth rates. Antibiotics are also used abundantly in poultry, cattle and fish farms. The misuse of antibiotics has led to the rise of bacteria that have become resistant to certain antibiotics. Researchers found high levels of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in chickens being raised for eggs and meat in poultry farms in Punjab. One in every two chickens in India is contaminated by antibiotics, fostering antibiotic resistance among humans.

  • Oxytocin in Milk

Traces of oxytocin found in milk have been linked to the early onset of puberty in girls.

  • Growth Hormones in Chicken

Chickens are also being given illegal growth hormones to increase their weight rapidly. This has adverse effects on human else as well.

  • Pesticides in Fish

Sea lice are marine parasites that feed on the mucus, skin tissue and blood of fish. Infestations are an epidemic in the tightly-packed environment of fish farms. Farmers try to counter this by pouring toxic pesticides into the water.

  • Mercury in Fish

Reports also indicate that the levels of mercury in rivers, coastal waters, soil and food items are way above acceptable levels in India. This implies that fish and fish products that we eat can be a major source of methylmercury, which has harmful effects on the human body.

This year, we’ve exposed the horrifying realities of India’s egg, chicken and dairy production by conducting studies across India, with a hope that the consumers, government and food companies take notice of the cruel and illegal practices and act on it.

Whether it’s for environmental concerns, health benefits or out of compassion for animals, more and more people are becoming aware of where their food is coming from and are eliminating animal products from their diet. The demand for vegan alternatives to animal products is increasing to an extent where a study suggests that plant-based milks in India could pose competition to dairy milk in the future.

The onus also lies on the government and the food companies to make animal agriculture sustainable and reduce the suffering of animals as much as possible. In Western countries, several measures have already been widely adopted by food companies and the government. Why is India still lagging behind?

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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