While all advertisements portraying animal fur garments as luxurious are abhorrent to me, I find the use of children to market fur clothing particularly objectionable.
Children can be viewed as a vulnerable group of the population, who lack the maturity to make proper informed decisions. Often it is the need of the parent(s) to allow their child to appear in an advertisement and in so doing they receive payment for this. These parents would see no problem in exposing their child to the pressures of the advertising world, possible even justifying it as good for the child’s confidence.
Perhaps where the product is for kids, for example a particular toy or foodstuff, it is appropriate to use children for marketing this. However, using children to advertise fur products is unacceptable at so many levels.
In many of these advertisements young children are made to look seductive, portraying fur as something alluring. This is a form of child exploitation. Furthermore, unless otherwise socialized, most children would naturally be horrified to see the suffering inflicted onto animals, and the brutal methods of killing these creatures in the fur industry. If they were able to choose, would these children want to be associated with one of the cruellest and most senseless industries in the world?
Please don’t be lured into the idea that there is anything glamorous about fur fashion. The fur trade is brutal and totally unnecessary in the 21st century.
The current Winter Olympics, also referred to as #PyeongChang 2018, is an event that has brought together nations from all over the world. With the political differences between North and South Korea there has been a lot of media coverage on these two nations, which are participating under one flag at these Winter Olympics.
Unfortunately fur fashion, as worn by the North Korean squad, seems to serve a particular purpose on this occasion. Ignoring the wonderful warm synthetic alternatives now available, this inclusion of fur fashion could be a deliberate attempt by the North Korean Workers’ Party to create the impression that its country is thriving. Well, this is certainly implied by Heo Euna, head of Korea Image Strategy Institute, when she refers to a North Korean celebrity as “… trying to showcase the image of being rich by wearing the fur” (http://bit.ly/2ELuGPr).
A possible reason for this policy is that in contrast to South Korea – one of the fastest growing developed countries in the world – the true state of North Korea is opaque. Information that is publicly reported is expected to praise both North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and his country. Although the media in North Korea is under strict state control, rare glimpses into North Korean society reveal that except for an elite group life is hard for ordinary citizens (http://bit.ly/2BUyjUF ; http://bbc.in/RqXiDE).
While there is nothing wrong with pomp and ceremony per se, the problem is when cruelty towards animals is involved, such as the animal suffering inherent in fur production. A case in point is the more than 200 North Korean cheerleaders – reportedly selected for their looks, skills, family backgrounds and loyalty to the ruling Workers’ Party – dressed in expensive fur-trimmed outfits and fur hats (https://www.voanews.com/a/north-korean-cheerleaders-fashion/4244596.html). Tens of thousands of fur-bearing animals would have been brutally killed for these expensive outfits, only to present a façade of wealth to the world. Seemingly, compassion towards animals is not a priority in North Korea.
The sad reality, though, is that when it comes to the fur industry in all its forms, there is nothing to cheer about!
Yet, despite huge public outrage this retailer sells items containing genuine fur. Their argument is that Takealot will not sell items derived from endangered animals.
Well, in my opinion this is putting greed over compassion. Even though thousands of minks, foxes and so on, are not endangered, they suffer immensely on fur farms.
Shame on Takealot for supporting this cruelty!
The international fur trade operates on many levels. Animal fur is no longer just used for luxury fashion garments. There is now a growing market where inexpensive items including jackets, accessories, trinkets, toys, hair bands, blankets, pens, pencil cases, jewelry etc. contain animal fur. In some shops, these products are properly labelled as containing real fur. While this is distressing to people who abhor the cruel and senseless fur trade, it is legal to sell genuine fur in South Africa.
The problem arises when these types of goods are sold as synthetic, often by reputable retailers with a fur free policy. This happens when merchandise is labelled as fake/faux fur or not labelled at all. They are mostly imports from China – a country with inadequate animal protection laws. Products such as these can include dyed and sheared rabbit, dog and cat fur, which is cheaper to manufacture than synthetic fur. The anti-fur organisation, Fur Free SA (FFSA), which I head, continues to find numerous South African retailers that are mistakenly selling real fur as fake.
As a consequence, shoppers inadvertently buy items containing real fur. Compassionate consumers want to know that their purchases are made without cruelty to animals and are understandably outraged at being duped. Stricter fur labelling laws in South Africa would help address this issue, but for now we can only turn to the Consumer Protection Act No.68 of 2008 (“CPA”) for guidelines. According to this act, retailers are prohibited from misleading the public through false descriptions of their products.
Mislabelling does not generally happen in the luxury fur range, as it is fairly straight forward to source luxury fur garments. Eighty-five percent of the world’s fur comes from fur farms. Furriers buy pelts directly from auction houses supplied by these farms worldwide. Pelts, therefore, pass through several countries before reaching the final destination to be made up into fur garments to sell to customers. These luxury garments have labels indicating the type of animal fur, for example mink, fox, chinchilla and sable. Some garments have the ORIGIN ASSURED (OA™) label, which was launched by pro-fur organisations supposedly to guarantee that origin of the fur is from a country where there are adequate welfare regulations or standards. Of note, this does not exclude countries where the factory farming of animals for fur, which is inherently cruel, is condoned.
Unless it is a luxury-brand labelled fur garment, ready-made fur clothing sold in upmarket boutiques is generally sourced from international fur fairs. Here, fur dealers sell their merchandise directly to retailers who support the fur market. The World Society for the Protection of Animals argues that weak import and labelling law makes it difficult to identify from where fur originates. Consequently, furriers and fashion retailers sell fur items without knowing their source.
In my opinion, though, people who buy fur fashion from these shops are ego-centric and don’t care about the prolonged suffering inflicted onto animals, or about environmental hazards arising in the process of fur production (See previous post @ http://bit.ly/2GklT7s).
The sourcing of inexpensive fur products is more complicated, as there are several players in the supply chain. The CPA defines a ‘‘supply chain’’, as “with respect to any particular goods or services, means the collectivity of all suppliers who directly or indirectly contribute in turn to the ultimate supply of those goods or services to a consumer, whether as a producer, importer, distributor or retailer of goods, or as a service provider”.
One would think that ethical companies would carefully monitor their supply chains? Yet fur items are slipping through and the question arises as to who is responsible for this? Where retailers have mistakenly been found selling real fur products they have consistently told FFSA that they too were misled, as it was the supplier who gave them wrong information. As already discussed, manufacturers of fur products cannot know the exact source of the fur unless they are killing and skinning the animals themselves. Investigations have shown this to be the case in China where often dogs and cats are rounded up and skinned for their fur. Suppliers then obtain finished products from the manufacturer, which are then distributed to various retailers.
FFSA has been told by small businesses that the owner sources the products directly from a supplier, by-passing a middle person. In some cases there are language difficulties perhaps accounting for the mislabelling of the stock. Here, the retailer should share some of the blame.
Once FFSA has ascertained through basic or laboratory testing that a product contains animal fur, it is up to retailers to remove these items. Some retailers such as Solo Shoes, Perocili, Polly Potters toy shop and Kingsmead Shoes did not, however, withdraw their stock. In their opinion the fur is “too cheap” and despite evidence to the contrary they believe the supplier who claims that the fur is synthetic. Other companies immediately removed the offending stock and some have apologised to the public for their mistake.
With bigger companies, accountability probably depends on the contract between them and a supplier. If their contract stipulates that a company only wants fur free products and the supplier defaults on this, then surely it is the fault of the supplier. Ideally companies should have the safeguards in place to keep real fur out of their supply chains, but is this really feasible with large retailers?
What companies can do, though, is if a supplier defaults on their side of the contract the retailer can never use that supplier again, and in this way ensure that unethical suppliers are weeded out of the system. Another safeguard could be at the shop floor level and to educate sales people how to tell the difference between real and fake fur. However, until that happens, it is still left up to consumers to be vigilant as to what they are purchasing and to complain when they are misled.
I believe that no person with integrity could support the fur industry in any way. However, numerous people are unaware of the horrific facts of the fur trade. My intention, therefore, is to present the facts of the fur trade so that people can make an informed moral choice about fur items.
Individuals with integrity consistently have strong moral principles. They are honest and their values concord with their words and actions, even in the face of conflict. To make moral choices, people need to be able to connect to all their emotions, pleasant and unpleasant. This is not easy and to avoid uncomfortable feelings people use various psychological defences to deny, avoid or minimise the reality of a bad situation.
Regarding animals, certain people deny that animals are sentient and therefore can suffer. These people might even argue that animals are put on earth solely for the benefit of humans. They may have pets and adequately care for them, yet animals are regarded as property to be disposed of at will. Viewed only as property, animals are used as a means to an end, usually for monetary gain.
Manufacturers of fur products try to objectify fur-bearing mammals so that people can avoid thinking of “fur” as sourced from living, sentient beings. Words such as harvesting instead of killing give the impression that animals are a natural resource, akin to harvesting a crop of vegetables.
In this advanced age of synthetic fabrics, real fur items are unnecessary. Hence, people who buy these items find ways to avoid empathising with the suffering of animals. They evade the truth, which enables them to disconnect from the living creatures. For example, they claim to wear mink fur and not the fur from a skinned mink, the latter statement evoking a more gruesome image. They will justify their choices by saying animals are humanely farmed and killed or that fur is “green”. This can be seen as a lack of integrity, as self-interest overrides compassion towards other species.
There is proof, however, that the fur industry is morally indefensible. It destroys animals and the environment for products that nobody needs in the 21st century. To maximise profits, the fur industry conceals or minimises these facts, which are presented as follows.
The fur industry is different to the meat industry, as every year millions of wild animals are battery-farmed or trapped solely for their fur. A single garment, depending on the fur, can be made from hundreds of animal skins. Fur products include luxury fashion garments, accessories, pet toys, key rings and various trinkets. Animals are killed specifically to make trim for hats, gloves, jackets, blankets, scarves and shoes. Without exception, fur items entail the extreme suffering of animals.
Around 85 % of the world’s fur comes from fur farms, where everything is aimed at being cost-effective. There is no regard for the animals’ well-being, as they are viewed as mere commodities. Fur animals spend their entire lives crammed into tiny, dirty metal cages where there is barely room to move let alone space for activity. Rusty wire from the cages can injure or cut the feet of these creatures. Eyes are often poked out. Cages are lined up in freezing conditions to ensure that animals grow thicker fur i.e. produce more fur. If their drinking water freezes, animals can die of thirst.
In these unnatural conditions wild animals go insane, displaying behaviour not observed in the wild. Abnormal behaviour such as cannibalism and self-mutilation occurs, as in frustration animals chew off their own tails and legs. Under these stressful conditions they attack and wound each other. Many animals die painfully from their injuries, go into organ failure from stress or suffocate. Despite this senseless loss of life, it is still more cost-effective to keep these animals in these vile conditions.
These victims lie anguished and depressed inside cages, waiting for an agonising death. To cut costs and to preserve pelts killing methods are merciless. Animals are routinely gassed, anally or vaginally electrocuted, poisoned, bludgeoned or have their necks broken and sometimes are even skinned alive. When electrocution is used, the farmer puts a metal clamp in an animal’s mouth, a metal rod in the anus, and sends a high-voltage current surging through the body. This causes the animal to have a cardiac arrest while still conscious. Sometimes the power surge forces the rod out of the anus, so the procedure must be repeated. If a lethal injection of various chemicals is used, it kills through paralysis, which can result in immobilised animals being skinned alive.
Environmental pollution from fur farms is huge. With tens of thousands of living beings kept in a small area excrement can seep into the ground water. Ammonia from accumulated faeces not only burns the eyes and lungs of animals but also pollutes the air. As only the pelt is used, bodies are dumped and left to rot. Toxic chemicals are used to stop fur bio-degrading. Fur garments are also dyed to give them a “modern” look. These toxins are harmful to the environment and to people.
About 15% of the world’s fur comes from trapped wild animals. Trapped animals cannot escape and often spend days bleeding to death. At times they gnaw off their own limbs in an effort to free themselves. Traps are indiscriminate and animals caught in error are casually discarded.
In countries with inadequate animal protection laws, such as China, millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged and bled to death. This is cheaper than to produce synthetic fur. Because it is easier to strip fur from a warm body, animals are often skinned alive. Footage has shown that animals sometimes are fully conscious while being skinned. Even after their skin had been stripped off, breathing and eyelid movement was evident for up to five to ten minutes.
To bypass laws banning the sale of dog and cat, this fur from China can be mislabeled as faux/ synthetic fur. Real fur is often dyed and sheared. Weak import and labeling laws make it difficult to identify from where fur originates. Consequently, furriers and retailers selling fur goods do not know the exact source of the fur. This aside, no living being should be skinned for their fur.
One way of ending the torture of animals in the fur industry is not to sell or buy products containing fur of any type. Even better, a person with integrity will reinforce their actions and speak up against the fur trade, which is one of the most senseless and barbaric industries on earth.
For those who are participating in this online tweet action.
Here is the link to the tweet sheet
Please share this tweet sheet link widely and tweet at your convenience for the next 24 hrs.
Please share this link to let people know about this worldwide action @ http://bit.ly/2rVslxV
Background to this tweet storm Be Kind Trudeau:
Canada is considered a developed country, yet its animal protection laws lag way behind other developed countries, even with the new government. Legislation is still in favour of industries that abuse animals. The proposed Bill C-246 (Modernizing Animal Protections Act) aimed to improve animal protection. However, Trudeau and his cabinet voted against it, which meant that the bill had no chance of getting through Parliament. This means animals can be treated in the most barbaric ways. All evidence shows that Trudeau is not intervening in relation to industries that harm animals, including the following:
Canada still imports several hundred thousand pounds of shark fins every year.
Millions of farm and fur-bearing animals in Canada suffer every year because of intensive factory farming methods.
Long distance transportation of animals is horrific, where animals spend days crushed into trucks. Up to two million animals can die during these trips.
Although dog and cat fur items still slip through, there are bans on this fur in the U.S.A., Australia and throughout the European Union. With no regulation on the import of foreign fur, cat and dog fur is being sold in Canada.
With weak labeling laws there is no indication of the source or type of fur.
Canada produces many other types of fur supplied by fur farms. Mink is the most popular farmed fur, followed by fox and chinchilla.
Canada is one of the biggest exporters of wild fur. Fur trapping is pervasive throughout Canada and trapping fees and royalties are paid by fur trappers into government revenues.
Coyotes are commonly trapped in the wild for clothing such as Canada Goose jackets.
Black Bears are trapped to supply fur for the Queen’s Guards’ hats (UK). Canada is the only nation in the world that allows Polar Bear hunting by non-citizens.
The Canadian government encourages the hunt and are paying hunters for Polar Bear hides to sell at auctions for up to $11,000. This has led to an increase in the export and sales of Polar Bear skins.
The Canadian Government still funds the brutal commercial seal hunt industry, and has even increased quotas, despite the decline in the market for seal products. Not only does the Canadian government allow this but now has a national day celebrating the sale of seal products!
In Canada animals are used for human “pleasure”. For example, certain forms of bestiality are legally permitted and rodeo shows allowed.
Please join animal activists worldwide and tweet this Friday 9th – Saturday 10th. Details are on the event page @ http://bit.ly/2rVslxV
Please share this link to let people know.
Canada lags way behind developed countries when it comes to animal rights!
I find every aspect of the fur industry abhorrent, from the fur farms right through the supply chain to the consumer. This includes unethical fashion designers, models, celebrities and any person promoting the fur market.
So why do I feel particularly disgusted by this advert for fur bikinis?
It is probably because the bikini fur resembles that of my fur boy, Duke. So IF I were to wear a furkini of this nature it would feel like wearing the skin of a family member.
Yet, really, it makes no difference. All animals suffer in the fur trade, which is inherently cruel and unnecessary.
Please make the connection and don’t buy fur items of any type.