In recent bizarre headlines from South Africa, an Afrikaans woman and her beau were arrested for allegedly making animal porn starring their neighbours' Labrador. The woman and her ex lover, both 31 years old, are allegedly facing five charges of bestiality along with 'possession of child pornography and sexual enticement'.
The article announcing the couple's arrest quickly took a prominent spot in the 'most read' section of news website News24. Imagine the couples' neighbours' shock upon learning that the family pet had made a debut in the world of fetish adult entertainment! The article states that the Labrador the couple abused has been taken away from its owners and put up for adoption.
As is often the case, the bizarre news story brought out punning commentators in droves. Some went for the obvious: one man wrote 'she [the accused] must prefer doggy style'. Another joked that the story gives new meaning to the rhyme 'knickknack paddy whack, give a dog a bone'.
The formal name for sex between humans and other species, 'zoophilia', combines the Greek word for 'love' or 'friendship' with the word for 'animal'. While sex with animals is not criminalized in some countries (even if it is frowned upon by the majority of a given population), in others it is illegal due to animal abuse laws.
Comments sections on news articles often reveal diverse opinions, and this is the case regarding the arrest of the literal 'animal lovers'. While most expressed their disgust and outrage, a few expressed the opinion that the dogs – a Staffordshide terrier was also involved – were most likely 'up for it'. What these few on the fringe of zoophilia debates miss is that an animal is not able to give consent for sexual interaction with a human.
The concept of 'consent' provides a rebuttal to religious commentators who seized the opportunity to link the scandal to society's growing social acceptance of same sex relationships. While a few zealots in the comments section argued that bestiality and homosexuality are similarly products of 'moral decay', they were swiftly reminded that the consensual encounters between adults differ ethically (and in other ways) from non consensual sex across the species divide!
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