In a civilised society we want to treat animals humanely. I would like to think that we would also want to treat human beings humanely as well. But that is not always the case. A new TV documentary has aroused a lot of passion about cruelty to animals, but we await a similar TV doco highlighting cruelty to unborn babies.

Last night the ABC aired on 4 Corners a program about how Australian cattle were treated in Indonesian abattoirs. I did not see the program but it has caused quite a stir – and evidently rightly so. The footage was apparently quite graphic as it exposed some pretty horrendous treatment of these animals.

One thing of interest however: In a major AAP story about this in today’s press, no mention was made of why this is occurring. The truth is, the Australian killing of cattle is fine, but these cattle are going to Muslim markets, so they have to be killed in accordance with halal methods.

Halal slaughter processes appear to be far more inhumane than non-halal processes. One writer puts it this way: “Let’s be perfectly clear and reiterate that the concern is not for how cattle are treated by Australian farmers or station managers. By all accounts, and as one said on the program last night, they like their animals. A lot. But to make money, the cattle have to be sold. And Indonesia is a big market.

“In regular abattoirs, the cattle are stunned and knocked unconscious before being slaughtered. It’s quick and about as pain-free as you can get. But halal rules (Islamic dietary rules for the consumption of meat) require the animal to be alive when it is killed. To many, being unconscious does not count as being alive. But halal also requires one clean cut across the throat. As 4 Corners uncovered last night, many deaths are the result of blunt knives and require on average at least 10 ‘goes’. Sometimes up to 30.”

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