By MANEKA GANDHI
In every survey taken across the world, the worst jobs that emerge are sewage cleaners, and people that work in the factory farm and slaughterhouse industry which includes fish, poultry, piggeries, cattle and, of course, all the other species you can think of – from rabbits and dogs to goats and camels. Millions of people work in slaughterhouses, dragging animals out, stringing them up, bleeding them, breaking their bones, slitting their throats, skinning live beings. These are the direct killers. But equally horrible work is growing them in tight miserable conditions, giving them injections every day, cleaning out their food and faeces, loading them into overcrowded trucks and then pulling them out half dead already. A poultry worker kills roughly 35,000 chickens a year. These people work in dirty, smelly, blood filled, unsanitary conditions. Workers are usually trained for one specific part of the process. For example, some workers kill and bleed the animals, while others make a series of cuts to separate fat, muscle and bone, some skin them while still conscious, others boil them alive. Hour after hour, day after day, the workers interact with countless animals in various states of fear and pain. They work with the constant noise of dying animals protesting till the end. They return home full of the germs of dried blood. What could they dream about at night and what aims propel them? How many women would marry a slaughterhouse worker? What do their children say when they are asked “what does your daddy do?” Could this be the reason that all slaughter involved workers live together in tight, slovenly ghettos all over the world (with the highest crime percentages) – so that they meet only their own kind? Slaughterhouse workers, which include fishermen who go out into the ocean and spend the day hunting and killing the animals of the ocean, have so many kinds of jobs – one more terrible than the last. For instance, these are jobs that are so strange that one wonders how poor (or mentally disturbed) you have to be to do them: Animal Masturbator: The sperm of animals is always in great demand, whether by researchers or famers, who want artificial insemination. The only way to obtain the sperm is to masturbate the animal and catch the semen in a pot. Whether it is a pig, ram, horse or bull, people have to physically excite the animals. When dealing with a bull, there have been cases were people have been seriously injured during this procedure. There are other options: They can ram an electric probe up an animal’s rectum, shove an artificial vagina onto the animal’s penis, or simply do it the old-fashioned way – manual stimulation using the hand. Electro-ejaculation generally requires anesthetising the animal and is typically used on zoo dwellers. The AV – a large latex tube coated with warm lubricant – is used primarily to get sperm from dairy bulls. The bull gets randy with a cow; when he mounts the animal with his forelegs, a brave technician, AV in hand, insinuates himself between the two animals and redirects the bull’s penis into the mock genitalia, which he must then hold tight while the bull orgasms. Three additional technicians anchor themselves to restraining ropes attached to a ring in the bull’s nose. The same thing applies to pigs and goats. An artificial insemination technician, also known as Dairy Cow Midwife, inserts semen deeply into female bovine vaginas to get them pregnant. Chicken Sexer: This gentleman stands at an assembly line and picks up fluffy, hour old chicks, turns them upside down and squeezes their faeces out from their anuses so that he can put a finger inside in order to determine their sex. Tiny bumps indicate a male, while a flat surface is female. The males are killed. This job requires a gentle hand (so as to not damage the female chicks), a good eye (to recognise whether they have a penis or not) and the ability to forget that your whole working life is going to be spent looking at baby chicken’s sex organs. Animal Shearers: These worthies pin the rabbit down flat on a surface and then shear the hair off, often breaking the bones and making a million body cuts in the process, while listening to it scream. The same applies to sheep shearers – considered the worst job in Australia, next to Sheep Daggers, whose entire work consists of bending over sheep and removing soiled wool from their backsides – a process extremely painful for the animal and backbreaking for the human. Goose/Duck Stuffers: To make pate foie gras, the diseased duck liver so beloved of rich people, the bird has to have an aluminum or plastic tube put into its food pipe. Workers stuff corn mesh down the tubes the entire day and make sure that the retching birds keep it down. If the mesh gets stuck they have to put their fingers into the tube to make sure it is pushed down into the stomach. This goes on until the liver is as large as the bird and it can be killed. Pig Hair Remover: The hair is pulled out from hogs while alive. Three people hold the squealing animal down and the fourth pulls out bunches of hair, which are sent to be made into brushes – after the blood is washed off. Pig Stabber: There is a belief that pigs should be stabbed many times before being killed so that the pork is more edible. People are hired in piggeries to take short knives and stab pigs repeatedly before killing them. A former kill floor manager gave the following account: “The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. . . . Pigs down 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. I can’t care.” Animal Renderer: Workers who bring the entrails, bones and blood from butchers and slaughterhouses, clean and strip them, boil and sort them, so that these animals can be turned into soap, fertiliser, candles, pharmaceuticals and toiletries (previously, tooth brush handles and teething rings as well.) De- animalising that leads to de- humanising. You just have one short life. Are you sure you want to spend it killing other species? The pursuit of money cannot justify this, because these are the lowest paid with the poorest working conditions in the world. In India it has become a family profession and often parents start their children off at the age of four so that they know nothing else. Each slaughterhouse worker suffers from diseases ranging from tuberculosis, asthma and bronchitis, eye, nose and throat irritation, traumatic injuries, noise- induced hearing loss. Most facilities operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – killing and processing hundreds or thousands of animals each hour. As one worker stated: The line is so fast there is no time to sharpen the knife. The knife gets dull and you have to cut harder. That’s when it really starts to hurt, and that’s when you cut yourself. Workers suffer chronic pains in their hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and back. The industry has consistently operated with one of the highest injury rates in the country. Fishermen experience one of the highest rates of fatalities among all classes of workers. They must stay at sea for extended periods, and withstand adverse weather and sea conditions, catch, extract and store fish, load and unload. Depleted supplies of fish in many waters add an element of uncertainty regarding the success of expeditions. How sad that humans should want to do jobs like this. These jobs are killing not just animals but destroying the rest of the world through polluting the land and water and bringing about climate change so that all of us are unsafe. Instead of trying to increase our meat exports, the government should be looking at retraining slaughter workers and letting them get jobs that keep their self respect and bring more money. And you can help them by becoming vegetarian.
(To join the animal welfare movement contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)