Dhaka: British singer and animal welfare campaigner Leona Lewis has in a video put spotlight on the cruel treatment meted out to cows transported from India to the Bangladesh leather industry.
As Lewis reveals in the video, made for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an estimated two million cows are transported on severely crowded trucks thousands of miles from India -- where it's illegal to slaughter them in most states -- to Bangladesh every year, read a statement.
"Bangladesh produces cheap products that are sold around the world. Now, shocking undercover footage into the country’s billion-dollar leather industry shows who is paying the highest price for leather: animals and workers, including children,” Lewis said in the video.
According to the PETA investigation, many cows arrive with broken tails and open wounds and are so weak and malnourished that they cannot even stand. In abattoirs, or illegally on the streets, their throats are cut with a knife, and some still struggle to escape as their skin is peeled off.
Tanneries use toxic chemicals to prevent animals' skin from decaying. Unprotected workers, including children, stand barefoot as they soak hides in carcinogenic chemicals, cut the skins with knives, and operate dangerous machinery - some losing fingers in the process.
The toxic waste is then dumped into the river, which has become a bubbling swamp. Most workers have chronic respiratory problems because of the chemical vapours and lack of ventilation. An estimated 90 percent of tannery workers die before reaching the age of 50.
"The production of leather hurts animals, workers and the environment. Please consider the impact that your purchases have, and buy only cruelty-free synthetic, natural fibre and other vegan clothing and accessories," Lewis said in her video appeal.
Lewis is part of a long list of celebrities -- including Amitabh Bachchan, Jude Law, Priyanka Chopra and Pamela Anderson -- who have teamed up with PETA, whose motto reads, in part, that "animals are not ours to wear", to help alleviate animal suffering in various ways.