Mohair South Africa (MSA), the organization that represents the South African mohair industry, has issued a “final statement” regarding the claims of animal abuse made by PETA last month. The animal rights organization released an undercover video which shows workers dragging goats by their horns and legs and lifting them off the floor by their tails, a move which could break the goats’ spines. Several fashion retailers, including H&M, Topshop, Esprit, Gap and Inditex, have vowed to stop using mohair in their collections following PETA’s investigation. Since then, MSA has pledged to conduct both internal and independent investigations on the matter. The external audit has been conducted by SAMIC, a quality assurance company which was created by the red meat industry of South Africa.
”The investigations have identified that the shearing in the video footage originates from two farms”, said MSA, countering PETA’s claim that animal abuse is widespread in the 12 goat farms and one slaughterhouse analyzed in their investigation. According to MSA, the two farms which breached the organization’s guidelines were both working with the same independent shearing contractor.
However, PETA US denies these claims. In an email to FashionUnited, the animal rights organization said that a total of seven farms appear in the video, of which four worked with the contractor in question. ”MSA claimed that its investigation found that the shearing footage came from two farms serviced by a shearing contractor. That is false. The video shows cruelty at seven farms, and abuse – not just by shearers – was witnessed on all 12 randomly selected farms. The shearing visuals came from four farms serviced by that contractor, which boasts its crews shear around 3.4 million goats and sheep per year. It is a massive enterprise with nearly 1,000 shearers -- so it’s reasonable to believe that abuse is widespread. This contractor is also an affiliate of the world’s largest mohair broker, so the reach of these parties -- and thus the cruelty documented at the shearer’s hands -- cannot be overstated”.
MSA claims that the contractor in question has been contacted to report on whether it has taken any disciplinary measures against the workers seen abusing the animals in the video, and what it intends to do to ensure it does not happen again. “The external contractor will revert to us as soon as their internal disciplinary process is complete”, the organization told FashionUnited via email.
As for the two farms, MSA said they have been temporarily suspended from mohair auctions. “They will undergo a probationary monitoring process and will be required to inform us when their next shearing will take place. MSA, along with a third-party investigator, will be present during shearing to ensure compliance with the industry’s sustainable guidelines”, the organization stated.
“They attempt to create a veil so that companies can hide behind false assurances while the industry continues its cruel business as usual.”
MSA also said it has met with South Africa’s National Council of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) in order to address concerns regarding PETA’s investigation. “We have discussed the implementation of further safeguards to protect the angora goats, the wellness of which is paramount to an ethically sustainable mohair industry”, stated the organization. MSA did not disclose which measures have been discussed, however. Finally, MSA stated that the NSPCA will be informed when the two implicated farms conduct their next shearing, and added they are welcome to send their own investigative team to monitor the process as well.
PETA: Mohair South Africa’s measures are not enough
PETA emphasized that animal abuse is not restricted to the moment of shearing. “MSA's audit fails to address that goats died of thirst and injuries; that their coats were matted with faeces; that animals were dumped into tanks of cleaning solution and their heads were shoved underwater; that goats' ears were mutilated with pliers which punched sharp needles through them and left them crying and struggling in pain; that after shearing, farmers admitted that many goats die of exposure to the cold, wind, and rain; and that the throats of goats deemed unprofitable were slashed”, noted the animal rights organization.
Finally, PETA criticizes that MSA’s proposed resolution to animal cruelty allegations relies heavily on self-policing. “Industry assessments and rating processes do one thing: they attempt to create a veil so that companies can hide behind false assurances while the industry continues its cruel business as usual”.
Pictures: PETA, Pixabay