Anti-violence campaigners have slammed an animal rights advertisement that equates eating fish with the suffering of sexual assault and domestic abuse victims. The video, made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, shows a screaming girl watching a man beat her mother, an attacker grabbing an elderly woman's blouse, and a bloodied schoolboy being kicked to the ground. It then shows a fish on a chopping board, opening its mouth, with the words: ''Some screams can't be heard.''
PETA is also urging supporters to tweet celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Mario Batali, calling on them to ''put down the knife''. Previously, the group has defended its attempts to ''shake people up'' as a means of sparking debate. Virginia Geddes, executive officer of the Victorian Domestic Violence Resource Centre, said she was ''horrified'' by the ad. ''I'm appalled that the lives of victims of violence are being compared to the life of a fish,'' she said. ''When PETA talks about 'shaking people up', have they thought about what being shaken up actually feels like for the women and children being abused?''
Karen Willis, executive officer of the New South Wales Rape Crisis Centre, said: ''To throw this in somebody's face without any warning is quite unethical. It re-traumatises them, and no one has the right to do that.'' Ms Willis said PETA ''has its heart in the right place'', but she feels the violent footage renders the ad ineffective. ''When I think of that ad, all I'll remember is the girl screaming and the woman being robbed, not the fish on the chopping block,'' she said.
Media commentator Professor Catharine Lumby said she endorsed PETA's motives but not its method. ''Animal rights is very important,'' she said. ''But I am concerned about the use of violence against women and children being used as bait for political campaigns.'' Claire Fryer, of PETA, defended the campaign as ''an effort to instil empathy for animals, specifically fish, who are widely misunderstood. Billions of fish are dragged suffocating from the oceans or farmed in filthy, severely crowded fish farms, treated in ways that would warrant cruelty-to-animals charges if the victims were dogs or cats.''