Marks & Spencer Joins Indian Leather Boycott

For Immediate Release:
21 June 2001

Jason Baker – (0) 98201 22602

Mumbai – European retail giant Marks and Spencer has confirmed that it has phased out its use of leather from India and will not purchase Indian skins again until improvements in animal handling are met, as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) requested. Marks and Spencer joins a host of other international retailers-including Gap Inc., J. Crew, Clarks and Florsheim-who called it quits by ending contracts for Indian leather goods a year ago, declaring the treatment of animals, documented by PETA, to be completely unacceptable. Also joining the boycott are retail giants Nordstrom and Wolverine, makers of Hush Puppies, as well as the popular Caterpillar brand and world renowned Harley Davidson footwear.

The Indian government has only itself to blame for failing to take action demanded and begged of it, through pressure and polite appeals, from all over the world since 1999, a failure that threatens to eventually cripple the country1s skins trade. Last year, in less than five months, PETA’s campaign cost the Indian leather industry an estimated 1.26 billion rupees in losses from foreign buyers.

PETA reports that cows, calves, bullocks, buffaloes and other animals are still being transported illegally in suffocating conditions, suffering wounds and smothering to death as the lorries carrying them bribe their way past state checkpoints and drivers careen at breakneck speeds, throwing the animals to the floor to be crushed and gored. Despite pleas from animal welfare groups, the Dalai Lama and American movie stars like Pam Anderson, thousands of cattle in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka are still being forced to walk for days to their deaths. When they collapse, they are beaten and have their tails broken at each joint. At slaughterhouses like the Bangalore and Calcutta municipal abattoirs, animals are dragged to the kill floors, sometimes by children, have their throats hacked at with blunt blades in full view of each other and are skinned for leather bags and
shoes, even while still alive.

Last May, PETA agreed to put its campaign against Indian leather on hold for one year in order to allow the Council for Leather Exports a chance to persuade the government to compel the enforcement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and to get its own traders to refuse to buy from abattoirs which reward cruel transport practices and which slaughter barbarically. In April, PETA warned Indian officials, including the prime minister and national and state-level ministers of agriculture, animal husbandry and transport, that it would be forced to re-launch its campaign if improvements were not made. Since that time, PETA has been in talks with 37 American, Australian and European animal protection organisations angry about India1s inaction.

Says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, ŒNo one can buy Indian leather without taking part in the immense suffering of these soulful animals. The criminal abuse of cattle, sheep and other animals cannot be accepted as the cost of doing business in Gandhi1s country. We honoured the minister of commerce1s request to end antagonism. However, for one solid year, all the government did was sleep. Now a serious wake-up call is in order.1

New undercover video footage taken in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka, which shows animals in overloaded conditions in lorries and being killed in view of each other with dull blades, is available upon request.

For more information on PETA1s Indian Leather Campaign, visit our Web site