Cruelty to animals is not 'Living on the Edge'
The baby monkey was shrieking loudly and was clearly distressed, but all this is just entertainment for us.
I recently caught the season finale of Living on the Edge (aired on October 16, 2013) and was appalled by the animal abuse taking place in the show. For those unfamiliar with Living on the Edge, it is a reality TV show in which contestants are given various challenges to see who is the most 'daring'.
It is supposedly Pakistan's 'highest rated show amongst music channels'. While many critics consider the language and content to sometimes be in bad taste, my major objection is with the cruelty that the animals go through during these 'dares'.
In the grand finale, amongst other dares, contestants were asked to hold four lizards in their mouth and do whatever they could to make each other drop their lizards. The contestants resorted to hitting and punching each other, resulting in the lizards being flung around and some of them even got trampled upon during the process. Another dare involved picking up mice from ones mouth and dropping them into a box.
The one dare that disturbed me the most involved opening a lock from the neck of a small monkey, who was shrieking loudly and was clearly distressed about being chained up in the presence of harsh media lights, loud music and a jeering crowd. After numerous attempts, the successful contestant finally pinned the monkey to the ground and unlocked the chain around its neck.
Our treatment of animals is a reflection of our moral and ethical standards as a society, assuming animal rights to be a luxury. While we as a society never fail to bring religion into every topic, on the issue of animal rights we blatantly disregard the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) examples and teachings.
I remember reading about an incident where the Prophet (pbuh) was outraged at his companions when they once took away the chicks of a bird to see how she would react. Seeing the bird distressed and flapping her wings, the Prophet asked as to who had hurt the feelings of the bird by taking its chicks. He urged them to return the chicks to. Hence, if distressing a bird was considered offensive, terrifying and manhandling a monkey for purposes of entertainment would surely count as cruelty.
The show brings into stark focus the lack of animal welfare laws in our country. The current Animal Protection Act 1890 dates back to colonial times with very few amendments since. There is also a need for ethics, standards and guidelines to be developed by PEMRA for the use of animals in the media.
It is high time that we work upon protecting and upholding animal rights in our society.