Tamil Nadu’s child rights panel has recommended banning PETA’s website for allegedly showing sexually explicit content, the latest charge against the animal welfare group which had campaigned for a controversial ban on the bull-taming sport Jallikattu.
The panel’s move against PETA – the commonly used acronym for People for Ethical Treatment of Animals – comes amid a fresh call for a complete ban on the group’s activities in the state which saw violent protests last month over a Supreme Court bar on holding the traditional sport.
The state government hurriedly passed a new bill last month, amending a 57-year-old law to bypass the court ban on Jallikattu.
A member of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Protection of Child Rights said the recommendation was in response to a complaint filed by a Chennai-based child rights activist, Enoch Moses, who argued that celebrity nudity shown on PETA’s website violated Indian laws.
The PETA operates across the world and has celebrity brand ambassadors, including Hollywood and Bollywood stars, who appear in campaign videos supporting the group’s cause.
Several PETA advertisements had invited criticism earlier for allegedly degrading women and showcasing nudity.
“It is against the law, what they have exhibited is very harmful for children,” said AD Revathy, a member of the child rights body.
“We visited the website and found pornographic content. They are totally exhibiting body parts… it is a very dangerous website.”
The child right panel has called for banning the websites of PETA’s India chapter as well the international organisation.
PETA India’s CEO Poorva Joshipura termed the panel’s move as “harassment” and alleged that the state body did not seek the animal welfare group’s views.
“(But) we are pleased at the extra visits to PETAIndia.com where people can watch videos, take online actions to help animals and learn about animal rights,” she added.
Revathy acknowledged that after the Jallikattu controversy, PETA had become a household name in the state and more youngsters were accessing the website. She, however, denied hounding the organisation.
She said the commission talked to about 10 children but did not contact PETA whose members she referred to as “misguided people… giving immoral things to society and youngsters.”
PETA had successfully campaigned for the ban on Jallikattu and say the sport is cruel and unsafe to the animals, who often have chili powder rubbed into their eyes and have their tails broken as crowds try to grab them.
The sport has also left many people dead and injured over the years.