Understanding the relationship between humans and other living beings has evoked many heated debates.
~Many people now believe that species other than Homo sapiens have sentience. According to Dr Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, there is indisputable evidence of non-human animal sentience. Very simply, sentience is the ability to feel, perceive and have the capacity for ‘conscious life’. In his article, From Human Rights to Sentient Rights (March 2014), Alasdair Cochrane argues that all sentient beings have subjective experiences and a stake in their own lives.
~Those of us who hold that every creature is sentient, want them all to have rights and accordingly be protected by law. We believe the exploitation of non-human animals is immoral and humans have evolved to the point where they do not need other animals in any way.
~Certain Vegan activists would not even condone having pets, as this “pet ownership” would be considered domination over another being. However, in my household I am not sure who dominates who, particularly when I manoeuvre my way around the dominated cats on my bed 😀 .
~Another view, often justified by religion, is that animals are put on this planet solely for the use of humans. These people would not deliberately harm animals. Perhaps they would even fight for animal welfare to ensure that animals are treated kindly before being killed.
~Then there are those individuals who just don’t care, as long as they can find the cheapest way to make profits from the exploitation of non-human animals. Factory farming for meat, dairy, eggs and fur are examples of this. People who demand these products are as culpable. This category of people would have no issue with using non-human animals for entertainment.
~Vivisection occurs when people torture non-human animals in the name of science. Seemingly these scientists can disconnect from the pain they inflict onto living creatures. They lack compassion and justify their actions by stating that animals are not sentient. They are rewarded for this immoral behaviour through money or prizes.
So where is sentience written into law? In 2009 on December 1st, member countries of the European Union endorsed the Treaty of Lisbon, which grants legal status to animals by virtue of sentience. Implementation of these rights is not easy, as people find devious ways to circumvent the law. Take the fur industry for example, fur comes to European auction houses from non EU countries where there are poor or no animal protection laws. These are the same auction houses from where South Africa imports its fur. In South African law, non-human animals are not considered sentient, which is a major obstacle in the fight for animal rights. Animals are legally defined as objects and therefore have no rights. They are seen as the absolute property of their human owners who may use them as a means to an end.
In May 2013 two groundbreaking seminars were held in South Africa. The title of these seminars is self-explanatory ~ANIMALS AND THE LAW – Does the law afford sufficient protection to animals?
Source of information for this post: http://issuu.com/ciwfsa/docs/animal-voice-july-2013/3?e=4995170/3832934%5B/embed%5D%5B/embed%5D