Was the “Thanksgiving turkey” sitting in the middle of your dining room table a victim of sexual assault? When PETA investigated a Butterball slaughterhouse, we uncovered a Gilead-level house of horrors and exposed workers sexually assaulting the birds.
The investigation took place at a Butterball slaughterhouse in Ozark, Arkansas, where approximately 50,000 birds are killed every day. The eyewitness documented a worker shoving his finger into a turkey’s cloaca (vagina) for “fun” during a break when the slaughter line was stopped. Another employee grabbed a bird by her legs and jerked her back and forth at a coworker to tease him. The coworker punched her to push her back. A third employee slammed a bird’s head and legs into the slaughter line shackles and rubbed his body against her, pretending to rape her while she was immobilized. The workers laughed during each instance.
And the violence didn’t end there. Here is just a small snippet from the eyewitness’s log:
May 2: “One frustrated worker kicked a bird in the head and another broke a bird’s neck so that her head was touching her back. He laughed about this. Another worker was slamming birds into the shackles.”
May 3: “One worker swung a turkey like a baseball bat into the metal bar of the trailer. He did this again later, slamming a bird into a handrail. I could see the bird’s spine and there was a lot of blood. He laughed about this.”
May 8: “One worker took a live bird and stomped on her head, crushing her skull until her head exploded. He then laughed and wiped the blood from his leg. He also threw birds against the concrete and punched others.”
June 5: “There was a live bird with only one leg and a bloody body in a shackle. A worker looked at her and started laughing—he had ripped her leg from her body when she became stuck between two coops.”
These instances of sexual assault and violence against animals who have no means of escape aren’t the exception.
PETA eyewitness working at Aviagen Turkeys, Inc., in West Virginia, the “world’s leading poultry breeding company,” documented a worker pinning a female turkey to the ground and simulating raping her. He reportedly admitted to having done this to dozens of other animals. Another PETA observer working at an Iowa pig farm that supplied Hormel documented a supervisor ramming a cane into a pig’s vagina and shoving metal gate rods into other pigs’ anuses.
Since turkeys have been genetically manipulated to grow so much larger than they ever would in nature, they can no longer breed normally. Workers manually extract semen from the males and impregnate the females by repeated forced artificial insemination. Dairy farmers restrain female cows in “rape racks” while they shove insemination tools inside them to impregnate them and make their bodies keep producing milk. Pig factory farm workers routinely handle sows’ genitals in order to determine the best time to plunge a tube of pig semen into them. And pervasive, normalized cruelty to animals trapped on meat and dairy farms is well documented.
Farms don’t see animals as individuals. They view them as objects to be used for their own ends. Sound familiar?
Women have been fighting that same battle for centuries and are still fighting it today. And if you’re saying, “But they’re just animals,” remember that up until very recently, we were “just women.” Those same arguments have been used to dole out oppression and abuse to “just blacks,” “just Jews,” and many other marginalized groups. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And he was right. It’s not hard to see how men sexually assaulting and abusing female animals helps make light of, normalize, and fuel sexual harassment, assault, and abuse of women.