CHENNAI: Three years ago, a cow with a broken spinal cord was reported to the Blue Cross of India. It had been crossing tracks at the Chrompet railway station and had been hit by a train. The animal activists who got the call will never forget what they saw when they reached the scene. “A man was lying beside this cow with a bottle of coconut oil,” recalls Dawn Williams, General Manager of the Blue Cross. “I don’t have to tell you what he was doing,” he adds, with disgust. A case was filed that very night (under Section 377), and is still pending. The cow didn’t survive the night. And the man is not likely to face any large punishment.
Activists are a worried lot because the incidence of bestiality, or sexual abuse of animals by humans, has seen a sharp rise in the last few years. “There has been a clear increase in bestiality cases observed since 2009, with as many as 25 cases in this category reported to FIAPO in 2015,” says Arpan Sharma of the Federation for Animal Protection Organisations. One of the major reasons why cases are increasing is also because more people are reporting these instances, he adds. “The problem is larger than apparent, but with more awareness about animal abuse, there has been a rise in the number of cases coming to light,” he said.
Psychologists often point to a lack of sexual activity and frustration as a trigger for acts like bestiality. Studies have detailed as many as nine kinds of zoophiles (people who get sexually stimulated and/or perform acts on animals) and have found that farm animals like cows, goats, pigs and dogs are amongst the most abused. In such cases of bestiality, police register cases against offenders under section 377 of the IPC. “We really need more legislation as well as more awareness,” says Williams.