Animal rights & the 5 freedoms
Animal rights is the idea that some or all nonhuman animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives, and that their most basic interests – such as an interest in not suffering – should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. (Source: Wikipedia)
As humans, most of us are naturally compassionate and would not accept blatant abuse or cruelty to any animal in front of our eyes. That is why we would stand up and object against any person hitting a dog or a cat. We see every bird and mammal caring for their young, building bonds with each other, avoiding injury and fighting death. Isn’t it naturally their right to live free and not have to suffer through life, for the pleasure of humans?
Through ancient history, man has respected animals as sentient beings and domesticated animals were a part of the family. In ancient India, several kings built hospitals for animals, Emperor Ashoka (304–232 BCE) even issued orders against hunting and animal slaughter. In the Qur'an, it is said that animals have souls, form communities, communicate with God and worship Him in their own way. The Prophet Muhammad forbade his followers to harm any animal and asked them to respect the rights of animals. It is a distinctive characteristic of the Shar`iah that all animals have legal rights.
As society has progressed over time, we have realised the importance of certain basic and intrinsic rights of all humans – embodied within our essential ‘human rights’ framework. Animals feel love, fear, pain and terror, similar to all humans. Are they too entitled to certain basic & intrinsic rights?
This question was examined in a 1965 report by the UK government on livestock husbandry, which led to the framing of what is termed ‘Brambell’s five freedoms’. These 5 freedom’s laid down the most essential & basic of rights (or freedoms) of all animals. These have since been agreed upon globally as society’s framework of basic ‘animal rights’ which cannot be denied to any animal.
Brambell’s 5 freedoms
- Freedom from hunger or thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease
- Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour
- Freedom from fear and distress
Ethnocentricity / selective denial of basic rights
Traditionally, ethnocentricity (the feeling that one group is superior to the other) has been responsible for gruesome atrocities being inflicted on ‘lower’ groups. Slavery, caste systems, women being treated as inferior beings or racism, all stem from ethnocentricity. We have had brutal struggles and uprisings to get basic rights for all, irrespective of gender, colour or ethnicity which is the essence of ‘civilized’ modern society.
Yet even in today’s civilised modern society, ethnocentricity and the blatant abuse of certain groups (considered inferior to other groups) of living beings continues to be rampant. Specifically, animals used for food, clothing and experimentation continue to be selectively and systematically denied their most basic of rights, all in the name of higher productivity and profits.
To learn more about the abuses faced by animals in the food industry, see