Warning: This article contains potentially distressing material.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”
But animals used in the meat and dairy industries are frequent victims of sexual abuse, and they’re never able to offer their consent. Just because they cannot verbalize the word “no” doesn’t mean that they should be violated whenever it’s convenient for a human.
Have you ever thought about some of the animals regularly sexually assaulted by humans?
1. Cows in the dairy industry
Female cows who are used for their milk are frequently raped.
Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to feed their babies. But in order to force them to produce as much milk as possible, farmers typically impregnate them every year using a device that the industry itself calls a “rape rack.”
To impregnate a cow, a person shoves his or her arm into the cow’s rectum in order to locate and position the uterus and then forces an instrument into her vagina. The cow is defenseless to stop this. If this were happening to a human woman, it would be considered rape. But because it’s happening to another species, it’s called “artificial insemination.”
Nine months after being forcibly inseminated, the cow will give birth, and a bond instantly forms between the mother and her calf. But in the dairy industry, the cow’s baby is taken from her just hours after birth so that her milk can be given to humans instead. This happens repeatedly until the cow’s milk production declines, at which point she’s usually killed.
2. Pigs used for bacon
Similar to cows, female pigs are forcibly inseminated so that they can become pregnant.
Most mother pigs are forced to spend nearly their entire adult lives jailed in tiny metal cages. They never get to snuggle with a mate or turn around to comfort their babies. They’re forced to lie on a cold concrete or wire floor, covered with feces, while their piglets are taken from them. The babies are then put back into the meat industry and slaughtered for food.
A PETA investigator at a Hormel supplier documented that a supervisor rammed a cane into a pig’s vagina and kicked a young pig in the face, abdomen, and genitals to make her move, telling PETA’s investigator, “You gotta beat on the bitch. Make her cry.” If that’s not assault, what is?
3. Turkeys like the ones served for Thanksgiving dinner
In the meat industry, turkeys have been genetically modified by humans to the point that they’re too big to mate on their own, so they, too, must be forcibly inseminated.
But artificial insemination isn’t the only example of the ways in which they’re sexually assaulted.
At Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., in West Virginia, the “world’s leading poultry breeding company,” a worker was indicted for cruelty to animals after being caught on video pinning a female turkey to the ground and mimicking raping her. When interviewed by police, he reportedly admitted to having done this to dozens of other turkeys.
At a Butterball slaughterhouse in Arkansas, a PETA investigator witnessed a worker repeatedly sticking his finger into a turkey’s vagina. Can you imagine how terrified animals who are treated like this must feel?
4. Animals imprisoned at amusement parks like SeaWorld
Animals who are used for food aren’t the only ones who experience sexual abuse when they’re bred. Until recently, orcas imprisoned at SeaWorld also had to endure this assault, and many other animals at the abusement park still do.
Male orcas were taught to float on their backs while trainers sexually stimulated their penises, collected their semen, and then forcibly inseminated females with it. You can’t make this sh*t up.
Even though SeaWorld employees no longer do this to orcas, more than 100 other dolphins and whales may still be forcibly bred. According to a report from SeaWorld Vice President Todd Robeck, staff members artificially inseminate bottlenose dolphins by drugging the females and removing them from the water so that they’re unable to fight back. They then shove endoscopes (cameras and tubes filled with semen) into the dolphins’ uteruses. How this could be viewed as anything besides sexual assault is a mystery.
5. Dogs from pet stores and breeders
If you got your dog from a breeder or a pet store, his or her parents may have also experienced some kind of sexual assault. Because “pedigree” dogs often suffer from health problems because of inbreeding, their gene pools are diminishing. Therefore, breeders are regularly turning to forced artificial insemination.
In a BBC article, Sue Finnett, who runs UK Clone, a canine reproduction and artificial insemination center in the U.K. said, “You manually stimulate the dog until he ejaculates, and collect the semen.” IMHO: If you jerk off a dog so that you can produce a more “pure” animal, you have issues.
6. Horses used for racing
Even horses are subject to sexual assault. Thoroughbreds who are bred to produce other horses for racing have to endure months of violation. While they aren’t bred through artificial insemination, the process is still far from natural.
One PETA eyewitness investigation at a horse-breeding barn revealed that stallions were forced to “cover” (have sex with) around 100 mares each breeding season. Can you imagine being forced to have sex up to five times a day for months?
Every year, more than 10,000 unwanted Thoroughbred horses are exported from the U.S. to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Most are cast-off racehorses, yet the racing industry continues to breed nearly 25,000 Thoroughbred foals every year.
Many animals who are bred by humans are sexually assaulted. If this cruelty disturbs you, consider doing your part to help end it. Try a vegan diet so that animals no longer have to be forcibly impregnated for your food. Avoid entertainment where animals are involved, and always choose adoption if you’re looking to bring a new family member home.