In Spain, the bullfight is on its way out. In Britain, it was fox hunting, which is now illegal. In the U.S., we have our own shameful traditions, including slavery, to dwell on. And in South Africa, apartheid may be a thing of the past, but another cruel custom persists.
Sadly, during the festival of Ukweshwama, a group of youths torment and slaughter a terrified bull with their bare hands. They rip out the bull’s tongue, shove handfuls of dirt into his mouth, tear out his eyes, and mutilate his genitals. This horrible murder has been excused from compliance with laws against animal cruelty under the country’s “cultural liberty” exemption.
Abusing animals does not bring honor to any culture. Indian humanitarian, journalist, government minister, and advocate for animals Maneka Gandhi knows that and has sent a letter on behalf of PETA Asia to South African President Jacob Zuma urging him to modernize this cruel ritual. She writes:
While I respect culture, this bull-killing ritual causes extreme suffering to an innocent creature and has no place in the modern world. Tradition is not an excuse for cruelty, and many societies have ended or are working to end ‘traditional’ practices—such as slavery, cannibalism, infanticide, female circumcision, foot-binding, bullfighting, and fox hunting—that cause animals or humans to suffer.
As Maneka Gandhi points out in her letter, it’s impossible to deny the link between violence toward animals and violence toward people. We hope that President Zuma and other world leaders who care about making their countries less violent will put an end to horrific practices such as this.
Written by Heather Drennan