Violence as a cultural norm: why Belarusians torture animals

Leaving a dog in a cage or on a leash for a long time is also cruelty / Euroradio
Leaving a dog in a cage or on a leash for a long time is also cruelty / Euroradio

In 2022, there were a lot of animal cruelty cases in Belarus. And they were truly terrible: a man threw two dogs out of the sixth-floor window, a pensioner hit a passing cat against the wall, and a teenager severely beat a dog on the playground. There was also a case where a dog was beaten and then buried alive. The police even found a kennel that looked more like a concentration camp, where animals died of exhaustion and dehydration.

Euroradio asked a psychologist why Belarusians behave this way. Could it be too much stress? It turned out there are quite a lot of reasons: from lack of education to mental problems.

Lack of culture and empathy

Насилие как культурная норма: почему белорусы мучают животных
A screenshot from a video of a woman slamming a cat against a wall /

Animal abuse can happen in any society. It's not about Belarusians or the fact that something happened to them, says psychologist and zoopsychologist Katsiaryna.

"I wouldn't say it's about modern Belarus alone. Perhaps we've just become more aware of it, but it's always been there. In general, people started treating animals better.

Then why is there such terrible news? The expert notes that there are still people who enjoy violence.

"This is what's at the heart of it. Then we can disassemble the phenomenon into its components. The first one is the low level of culture and simple illiteracy. The Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare developed in Great Britain in the middle of the previous century, but in post-Soviet Belarus, almost nobody knows about them. The same applies to humane methods of teaching.

Насилие как культурная норма: почему белорусы мучают животных
Raising animals does not equal violence /

Some people get rid of their negativity by hurting animals. If it makes you feel better once, it's more likely that this practice will stick.

"Also, animals are perceived as objects rather than living beings. Supposedly, they don't have emotions, but that's not true. There are people whose inhibitions show in this way. For example, many cowardly people get "dangerous" dog breeds, provoke them to aggression, and then "tame" them.

Also, animals are totally dependent on us. We literally control their lives and deaths. And this absolute power can be corrupting. A God complex emerges so people begin to mock the animals. And there is banal sadism. When they take pleasure in causing suffering to other creatures," continues Katsiaryna.

Beating is not a sign of love

Насилие как культурная норма: почему белорусы мучают животных
Accepting violence as the norm encourages hurting those who need our protection / Euroradio

"If an adult believes that it is normal to hurt animals, only the law will help," says the specialist.

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