BY: CHARLOTTE LEFAVE
France is having some major issues with animal rights. In the past couple of years there have been countless pieces of evidence supporting extreme cases of abuse against animals meant for slaughter in French abattoirs. These include videos from hidden cameras (planted by the La Monde newspaper), showing senseless brutality towards animals, including improper stunning (meant to knock the animals unconscious to prevent pain), animals being beaten and thrown against walls, conscious dismemberment, hacking and bashing and live decapitation. Though gruesome acts like these seem completely unthinkable for most people, the employees of the abattoir were filmed causing excruciating injuries to the animals being put through the system.
Warning: This video contains extremely graphic and disturbing content
No one likes to think about, let alone see firsthand, the things that happen in places like slaughterhouses; places designed for the efficient death and dismemberment of animals bred for consumption. But brushing aside these facilities and not putting thought into how they are run can actually contribute to recurring problems like health code violations, underpaid workers, and of course, the blatant abuse and torture of animals.
The nauseating videos sparked outrage among the people of France, and projects to raise awareness, led by activists like the group L214, became increasingly common in city squares and other public spaces throughout the country.
Since then, the establishments viewed have been shut down.
The employees involved have also been dismissed and more thorough training is being developed for future employees to prevent events like this from happening again. Unfortunately, companies involved in the production of animal-based food products have a dark and lengthy history of skirting regulations that are put into place for the humane treatment of both animals and workers, and it is difficult to see where the problem stems from. Is it the undertraining of workers, leading to boredom and sadistic actions, or the under-management of production?
The complete absence of any kind of empathy towards the animals has shocked and disgusted viewers since its release and people impassioned by it are demanding justice for the heinous acts pictured. A particularly shocking detail, especially to ethically-conscious consumers, was that many of the abattoirs guilty of cruel treatment were well-known organic companies that advertised humane handling of their livestock. This proves that unfortunately organic does not always mean there is less cruelty involved.
The issue has come to the attention of several prominent members of France’s government in the form of countless letters and emails which has led to the review and reshaping of policies that govern slaughterhouses inside of its borders. Since there are already several animal cruelty laws put in place for both domestic and farmed animals (charged convicts are sentenced with up to 2 years in prison and a $30,000 fine), the government has decided to make it an even easier time to catch abusers by placing cameras throughout the abattoir buildings. The legislators are confident that the cameras, marked for installation in 2018, will put a significant decline on animal abuse in slaughterhouses in the future.
The French government reacted very quickly to fix this issue; either for ethical reasons or to tamp down the public’s outrage, but either way it will hopefully discourage the mistreatment from continuing to happen.
Unfortunately, this kind of quick action and prevention does not always happen. In places like Canada that nationally consume enormous amounts of meat, there is a naturally callous view towards farm animals because of the use that we have designated for them. Paul McCartney said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian,” and he makes an excellent point. By not being vigilant about knowing where our food comes from and what exactly we are consuming, we are not only putting animals at risk for mistreatment, but we are also putting ourselves at risk. The same goes for GMOs and the chemicals our foods are subject to before they reach grocery stores. So do yourself a favour and put a little research into it; you may be surprised by what you find.