A society reveals a lot about itself by how it chooses to treat its most helpless and voiceless.
When it comes to ending wanton cruelty towards animals, Bangladesh sadly has a long way to go.
Animal cruelty in this country is as pervasive as our polluted air, and one of the primary reasons behind it is the toxic attitude many of us have towards non-human creatures, not to mention the lack of a proper legal framework that protects animals.
Bangladesh still adheres to colonial era laws regarding punishment for animal cruelty, wherein abusers are merely given a slap on the wrist for acts as barbaric as beating, mutilating, or senselessly killing animals.
A paltry fine of Tk200 hardly acts as any sort of deterrent.
Of course, we have seen progress in the form of the revised Animal Welfare Act, which was drafted around two years ago. The law -- which seeks to impose a minimum fine of Tk10,000 and six-month jail-time, and a maximum fine of Tk50,000 and two-year jail-time if someone unnecessarily expresses brutal intent towards an animal -- would go a long way towards ending animal abuse.
However, the broader problem in our society is one of a lack of empathy and compassion.
To that end, it is good to know that organizations such as Obhoyaronno, Paw Foundation, and Animal Rights Koalition are doing good work in spreading awareness about animal rights, shifting the attitudes of those who, up until this point, have only viewed a stray cat or a dog as fair game for cruel treatment.
When there is so much poverty, violence, and human misery that needs addressing, animal rights, to many, hardly seems like a worthwhile issue.
But we must ask ourselves: Do we really wish to be the kind of society that hurts those that cannot talk back?