I choked the first time I stepped into the Mapusa slaughterhouse. I was told about it by a friend, and warned not to enter. Nonetheless, I did. I needed to understand the threat behind entering such a place. And what I discovered was more horror by far than I ever thought I could afford to know.
The Mapusa meat markets slaughter chicken and goats in a genocidal fashion. Locked up in a tiny, dark cell, these sentient creatures live their last moments abused, disavowed and terrorised. A goat will be dragged out from this hell-hole and have his throat slit while he screams to no avail – the slaughtermen are impervious to the plights of any but themselves. The chickens are stuffed into filthy, overcrowded cages while suffering the unimaginable traumas of broken legs and wings. Plagued with ulcerated skin and infections, their short lives are muted mercilessly by the executioner’s knife. The stench is thick and unbearable. Cruelly slaughtered, skinned and gutted, they are thrown into a grinder and made edible. All this in view of the awaiting birds – knowing they are next, and no one will save them.
Humans have a great capacity for empathy. But it is the ability to turn off our empathy at will which makes us terrifyingly unpredictable. It is ingrained into our culture that certain animals are bred to die for our needs. But surely no creature has the right to make such a decision? Yet death alone, as unwelcomed as it is, is not the source of my concern. Rather it is the brutality inflicted upon these creatures that shows the true black of our souls. We have made animals our prisoners of war and commoditised their flesh. Whether you wield the knife, feast on the carcass or simply turn away, we are all complicit in this work. To visit a slaughter house is to understand the millenniums of violence that qualify humanity. Genocide, holocaust, terrorism – these are not acts done by the barbaric few, rather they are the daily rituals from which all our hands run red.