“Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is, whether its victims is human or animal, we cannot expect things to be much better in this world” – Rachel Carson
Although research does not consistently give precise rates of bestiality, classic studies indicates that 5 to 8% of males engage in bestiality, while between 3 to 4 % of women do. The social media space was recently set on fire when motion images circulating over the internet showed some women engaging in sexual acts with dogs for financial gain. This is worrisome because, it can fuel the abuse of helpless animals and spark a zoonotic epidemic.
Definition of terms
Animal abuse or animal cruelty is the crime of inflicting physical pain, suffering or death on an animal, usually a tame one, beyond necessity for normal discipline. It can include neglect that is so monstrous (withholding food and water) that the animal has suffered, died or been put in imminent danger of death1.
Bestiality is a type of sexual offence in which animal is used as a medium for satisfying sexual desire without developing any kind of emotional bonding2
Most commonly abused animals
Over 25,000 years ago, cave paintings and carvings, which showed images of bestiality, were very common. Even during the 7th century BC, such images littered caves. Between 1955-1913 BC, King Hammurabi stated that anyone engaging in bestiality should be killed. In the 13th century BC, the Hittites had rules about which animals one could have sex with and which were forbidden and punishable by death. In ancient China, men were having sex with geese while in ancient Egypt; some rulers had a reputation for bestiality. In ancient Greece, bestiality took place during religious ceremonies and was also, widely practiced in Rome by shepherds9.
An eighteen years old unmarried, non-literate male of low socio economic status was brought to the emergency department for medical examination with an alleged history of bestiality. The patient had six siblings and he was 3rd in birth order. The family lived in an unhygienic location where dairy farms are being operated. He had committed sexual intercourse with two calves and during the act, one calf died. Human DNA was detected from the anal and vaginal swabs of the calves in a forensic science laboratory, which confirmed the allegation. The patient had not shown any feeling of guilt or remorse associated with the death of a calf in the category of bestiality. As reported by the patient, the significant life events during his childhood and adolescence contained witnessing domestic violence, death of mother when he was 13 years old, and started consuming alcohol at the age of 16 years. Another key life experience, which warranted a special mention, was that adult males sexually abused him multiple times at the age of 10-11 years11.
Causes of bestiality
One of the leading cause of bestiality is poor parenting. The failure of parents to teach their children about norms and values exposes them to varieties of sexual practices. Since children hardly differentiate between right and wrong without guidance, they are tempted to start having sex with domestic animals.
Another is poverty. The social media space in Nigeria was recently flooded with motion pictures of some women captured while having sexual intercourse with dogs allegedly for 2 million naira4. Many of these women were lured into this act through the claws of financial lack.
Lack of proper education is another cause. When the reasoning abilities of people are not well developed, there will be difficulty in coordinating ones mind.
Statistics indicates that as many as 40% of the people who engage in sex with animals come from rural areas, where the opportunities are higher due to the farm based nature of the social context3.
In regions of the world like Chile, Russia, Cuba and Japan where bestiality is not criminalized, there are higher chances for the occurrence of bestiality.
Furthermore, some engage in bestiality for ritual purposes. This is true because when people visit some diviners in search for help, they are told to sleep with animals as a remedy to their problem. In ancient Egypt, at the temple in Mendes, the goat was viewed as the incarnation of the god of procreation. As a ritual worship, the male priests would use female goats for sex, while the female priests would do likewise with male goats5.
The influence of peer pressure cannot be relegated to the background. Many circles of friends who engage in bestiality often coerce their new members to also practice bestiality to oil the grease of the clique.
Exposure to pornographic sites is another cause of bestiality. When people are exposed to hard-core porn movies that promotes sex with animals, they would love to practice these lessons on helpless domestic animals around their communities.
Sexual attraction to animals is yet another. Some pet lovers out of strong emotional connection with animals explore their sexual fantasies with these creatures for the sake of bonding.
Men with sexual dysfunction and low self-esteem resort to bestiality to protect their egos. Since animals do not give performance feedbacks, such individuals feel safe to satisfy their sexual urge with animals.
Phobia because of past sexual experiences often makes people to resort to bestiality. A girl who was molested at childhood would desire to satisfy her sexual urge through bestiality instead of with a fellow human.
With pets readily available in the absence of a human partner, people tend to leverage upon this route to perpetrate bestiality.
Finally, some people engage in bestiality because of perceived safety from pregnancy. Since human and animal species differ, the impossibility of getting pregnant fuels the practice.
Signs of an abused animal
*Tucked tail, flinches at human contact
*Unexplained fracture or limping
*Unprovoked aggression, whining or whimpering
*Overly submissive (rolling ono back, tail tucked, urinating)
*Suddenly avoiding any physical contact
*Attempts to bite or scratch when petted8.
Questions to consider when investigating animal abuse
*If a pet exhibits an injury, does the family try to explain away the injury with an excuse that appears inadequate, such as “oh, she just fell off the couch” to explain blood smears around the anus?
*Do stories from different family members about the injury or injuries seem to conflict?
*Is there more than one injury on the animals body and do they appear to be in different stages of healing?
*Does the family use a series of different vets to help conceal the serial abuse?
*Does the family keep one animal in a private location such as a basement or garage but other pets in the house or backyard?
*Does the dog or cat appear to be overly fearful or aggressive around certain family members?
*Are there signs or sounds of other violence in the home?
If these signs are noticed, it might not actually prove an animal was sexually abused. Further clinical examinations may be needed before arriving at a logical conclusion6.
Effects of bestiality on the society
Bestiality encourages inequality in the society. With animal rights abused, the spill of the practice is often transferred onto human beings.
Another effect closely related to this is that people who rape animals are more likely to rape other people in the end. Studies affirm that 31.6% of bestiality offenders had also committed sexual offences against children and adults10.
With animals unable to communicate consent to human in a form one can readily understand or to speak out about their abuse, torture through bestiality inflicts pain and injury to these helpless creatures thereby, altering the course of nature.
The spread of zoonotic diseases capable of causing an epidemic increases with increase in the practice of bestiality. Since such diseases are difficult to manage, it could lead to the depletion of both human and animal population if the practice is not discouraged.
Treatment and how to stop bestiality
Many people who engage in bestiality find it difficult to seek help due to shame and fear of social judgement. Since this is often a psychological problem, the use of psychological treatments coupled with spiritual and medical treatments can help increase self-esteem, boost relational skills with humans and analyse fantasies to prevent elements capable of inducing sexual excitement to animals.
Proper education should also be provided for everyone to discourage the act of bestiality. Doing this will equip people with the right sense to discern good from bad.
Persons diagnosed with hormonal deficiencies relating to bestiality should be given medication to correct such abnormalities and balance their hormone composition.
Parents and religious leaders should be encouraged to inculcate good morals into their children and followers respectively. Doing this is an effective way to build a just society devoid of bestiality.
Many people who engage in bestiality learn the act from immoral films and images. It is pertinent to regulate pornographic films capable of promoting animal sex.
Since animals are usually the target of bestiality, laws should be implemented and enforced to protect them from abuse. Regions without such existing laws should not be left out.
With poverty playing a vital role in fuelling bestiality, it is paramount for Governments and the private sector to provide jobs for the unemployed to create job opportunities for everyone.
“If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed”-John: 8:36 KJV. Above all, those involved in the act of bestiality should seek self-directed spiritual counselling and prayers to be set free from the bondage.
2. Aggrawal A.A new classification of zoophile. J Forensic Leg Med. 2011:18:73-8
3. Hensley, C., Tallichet, S.E., & Dutkiewics, E.L, (2011) .Examining demographic and situational factors on animal cruelty motivations. International Journal Of Offender Therapy and comparative criminology , 55(3), 492-502
5. Andrea M. Beetz. “Human sexual contact with animals”
About the Writer
Ekoja Solomon is an agriculturist from Benue state employing the skills of research, critical thinking and creative writing to birth literary change agent.