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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Who's horsing around?!


Whoever said man is an animal wasn’t too far off the mark. As if eating them, and using them as beasts of burden wasn’t enough, animals have also to put up with the sexual debauchery of some. Spriha Srivastava, on what constitutes bestiality…
SPRIHA SRIVASTAVA | Issue Dated: September 26, 2010
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Who's horsing around?! Not too long ago, a farm near Enumclaw in Washington was frequented by many, looking to take their pick of animals. Except, the animals were not chosen with an intention to domesticate or keep as pets; they were picked to be used as sex objects! The farm was an animal brothel where people would pay to have sex with non-human species, until 2005 when a man lost his life on being sodomized by a horse. The death of a human led the State of Washington to make bestiality illegal. One is, however, left to wonder what zoophilia, or sex with animals, does to the animal in question.

Depiction of sexual intercourse with animals can be seen in the sculptures of Khajuraho temples and also find mention in certain ancient scriptures as well, which, some say, are proofs of zoophilia being common practice in those days. Does that make it acceptable? Let it be known that zoophilia is an offence (considered unnatural sex punishable under section 377 of IPC) because it has the same implications as that of sexual assault on fellow humans.

The 26th National Conference of Sexology, recently held in Chennai, tackled the issue of bestiality which is rare in India, though sporadic cases aren’t uncommon. Almost a year back, a Mumbai-based taxi driver was charged under section 377 and was slapped with Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for having sexual intercourse with a female stray dog. The Conference brought forth other similar incidents including young boys in rural south India having sex with buffaloes, men seeking sex of stallions, and women tutoring dogs for intercourse. Dr Narayan Reddy, Consultant – Sexual Medicine, and Chairperson of Council of Sex Education and Parenthood International, elaborated on this issue. “Research is still being done which makes it difficult to mention the exact cause for bestiality, but a person’s upbringing and the environment around him is the cause of such practices. People who lived in farms surrounded by animals found sex with animals a way for sexual release.” He mentioned a case that was brought to him where a man could not have sex with his wife because he’d spent his life with animals in the village and only sexual intercourse with animals stimulated him. He’d tried intercourse with buffaloes and that alone gave him pleasure. “The atmosphere that one lives in plays a major role in shaping such an orientation and can eventually end up becoming serious medical cases, like that of this man,” mentioned Dr Reddy. Who's horsing around?! Bestiality, being rare, hasn’t allowed much experiment with its treatment either. Dr Reddy explained that interspecies sex can’t lead to reproduction. It’s only sexual satisfaction that one’s looking for in such cases. “It’s a psychological disorder and the person, firstly, has to be willing to undergo the treatment. Then, he has to be put on medicines and psychotherapy, and it often takes years to be treated. Such cases are similar to that of paedophilia. Paedophiles are sexually attracted to children and zoophiles are sexually attracted to animals,” he said.

Indeed, zoophilia can be found to be as condemnable as sex with minors, or say, violating a mentally challenged person. For in all these cases, the subject is least in a position to protest and/or demand justice. “When animals are forced to behave how they would not naturally, it is done through physical force causing the animal immense pain, bewilderment and distress,” says Poorva Joshipura, Chief Functionary, PETA India. “Animal abusers are cowards who take their frustration out on the most defenceless beings available to them. Because animals cannot tell anyone what happened, they become victims of heinous acts of abuse. People who engage in bestiality or any form of cruelty to animals need immediate psychiatric counselling or jail,” she reiterated. Besides the aforementioned psychological problems and issues of animal abuse, sex with animals also has health hazards attached to it. A person is likely to develop infections even on casual contact with animals, but zoonoses (infections transmitted from animals to humans) like Malta fever, leptospirosis or Weil’s disease, toxocariasis and Q fever are readily contracted on contact with semen, vaginal fluids, blood, saliva, faeces or urine of animals.

For the sake of argument, one could point out that dogs at times display overzealous antics like clambering on to our legs, or can be seen ‘doing it’ to the pillow, but is that a sign of consent for the act? No, just like a minor’s ‘consent’ is invalid. Besides, being sexually attracted to another specie is the highest form of heinous hedonism that there was. What would you say of a person who gratifies his sexual needs by imposing his dominance over an animal, just because it’s an easy and available option? Such a person is capable of inflicting the same cruelty on, perhaps, people weaker than him. Dr Narayan Reddy agrees that people with such a psychological orientation have higher likelihood of turning into rapists and killers.

Sex in human society is, theoretically at least, the culmination of physical and emotional closeness (yes, gay sex too), apart from being intended as a tool for procreation. Bestiality debases it, and makes it, well, animal…
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017