Social Justice and Ethics
The exploitation and slaughter of animals is seen by many as a model and impetus for the oppression that people inflict on each other.
Pakistan has few advocates for animal rights and even fewer animal rights activists. And regardless of their number, most of them are females. One wonders if this is a coincidence; or is it because women by nature are kind-hearted while the men are cruel and born hunters of animals. The movement for animal rights is so novel in Pakistan that few would regard it as an effeminate phenomenon but this is how many regard it in other parts of the world.
Pakistan is a poor country where two-thirds of the populace makes less than two dollars a day. Resultantly, few can afford to eat quality food and thus almost all the poor end up being vegetarians not by choice but by default; the meat is expensive and nowadays even the middle class is heard complaining about the high cost of meat.
This acute poverty, coupled with the patriarchal nature of the society, results in the women seldom getting to eat meat. The men probably never ask the women folk at home to serve them the best portions of the food and meat, but the women at the expense of their own nutritional requirements, possibly by sheer custom, engage in such self-deprivation behavior. The end result is poor health of the girl child and a distorted male to female child ratio; only 47% of the populace consists of females when this ratio is higher in most other countries.
Why do the women deprive themselves of the meat portion in favor of the men? Most will say that meat is nutritional and women thus consider the men entitled to it as they do the hard menial work outside the home. But all men do not undertake menial work and the phenomenon is almost universal.
The other plausible explanation is that eating meat is associated with power; people with power always eat meat. Men have power and eating meat, being considered a masculine food, thus becomes their exclusive prerogative. Women, treated as second class citizens, thus eat what is considered second-class food.
The question is as to why meat is associated with the males and power. Meat involves killing of animals and thus symbolizes the patriarchal control of animals. The oppression of animals can be compared with the oppression of women or for that matter of other races, as happened in the case of blacks under slavery.
Most of us believe that objectification of other beings is a necessary part of life, be it animals, women, races or the lower classes. It is for this reason many argue that fighting for animal rights today confronts the same forces of traditions that once the past fights against racism and sexism did. There is a definite connection between the mistreatment of animals and the mistreatment of people.
The exploitation and slaughter of animals is seen by many as a model