PETA India’s First Campaign: Taking on the Leather Industry

Posted on by PETA

In honour of PETA India’s 10th anniversary, which we celebrated in December with a party packed full of some of the hottest celebs in Bollywood and beyond, we’re taking a look back at some of the many awesome achievements we’ve scored over the past 10 years. The following is the first in a series of blogs celebrating these victories: So how did PETA India begin? Sit back and read on…In 1999, after receiving complaints about the way animals used for leather were being treated, PETA founder Ingrid E. Newkirk put together a team and plunged head-on into an investigation of the Indian leather industry. What they found was shocking.

We’re talking about abuse and behavior that clearly violated Indian law. PETA peeps actually witnessed guards being bribed to allow skin-traders to smuggle cattle across state borders! Cattle were being marched to their deaths over hundreds of miles – without any food and water. When they faltered or collapsed, men smeared chili peppers and tobacco into their eyes and twisted their tails to keep them moving. Crammed into over-crowded transport trucks, many were trampled or gored to death during the long journey. By the time they arrived at the slaughterhouse, many had to be dragged inside. Once inside, their throats were slit in full view of others awaiting the same gruesome fate. Can you say illegal?

While the Constitution of India clearly prohibits cruelty to animals, the law, to this day, is still being violated while authorities simply look the other way. Needless to say, this investigation blew the lid off of the leather industry and prompted PETA to promptly found PETA India. The rest is history. And since that initial investigation, PETA India has been fighting hard to make the Indian leather industry history. And it’s paid off—big time.

Within the first year, an international boycott, protests at Indian embassies around the world and letters from Sir Paul McCartney, Arun Gandhi, Jackie Chan, and other famous folks got tonnes of public attention, and forced officials to take notice. Then Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee directed state governments to enforce India’s animal protection laws, and the minister of commerce and industry, publicly urged state governments to set up committees to ensure enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, promising that “surprise inspections of places where cattle are sold and loaded onto trucks” would be conducted.

to our investigations, Adidas, Gucci, Gap, Liz Claiborne, Kenneth Cole and about 40 other leather retailers around the world decided to boycott leather from cruelly treated Indian animals. Top fashion designers, including Stella McCartney, Marc Bouwer, Hemant Trevedi, and Anita Dongre, also refuse to work with leather and offer stylish substitutes instead. After all, fashion should be fun, not fatal! Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find products made of cotton, jute, plastic and pleather. Plus, many stores and nearly all major brands of shoes, including Bata, Reebok, Nike, Adidas, Liberty, offer non-leather alternatives. There is no excuse to wear the skins of any animal. Now is the perfect time to make some history of your own by giving leather the boot! From this day forward, pledge that the only skin that you will wear will be your own.