Bestiality is one of those things that people don’t want to think or talk about. Avoiding the topic, however, causes more harm than addressing this issue head on. Over the last 2 decades, there’s been a spike of bestiality arrests attributed to better awareness. Still, there remains so much to understand about its prevalence and the motivations of those committing this heinous offense.
Joining Justice Clearinghouse to help answer our questions on bestiality is Jenny Edwards. A subject matter expert on animal sexual abuse and exploitation, she provides training services and materials on this topic to veterinary, animal control, and criminal justice organizations. She’s also contributed on various publications including the results of her study of animal sex abuse cases. Her most recent research endeavor involves sex offender profiling, animal sex offense, and mental health disorders.
Jenny shares her expertise and knowledge, unpacking points including:
- What bestiality is and juxtaposing it to zoophilia, role-play and furry lifestyle.
- Facts and challenges that we must recognize and address relating to bestiality:
- The lack and inaccuracy of existing studies on the issue and the resurgence of interest in research on bestiality.
- The effect of the internet on connecting people interested in bestiality and its prevalence.
- The variability of legislation on definition and bestiality-related terminologies, and its severity as an offense and penalties.
- The lack of legislation on bestiality because of its taboo nature and people’s apathy.
- The complications of bestiality cases with its multiple victims, offenders, incidents, and jurisdictions involved.
- The increase in the numbers of bestiality arrests since the early 2000s due to greater awareness.
- How bestiality arrests are made with the help of the animal related community, concerned people, law enforcement, and technology.
- A look into the profile of bestiality offenders based on their gender, criminal history, repeat offense, and sexual interests, as well as the un-/under-reported hidden offenders.
- The four categories that offenders typically fall into depending on the type of contact and intent broken down into age, sex, ethnicity and likelihood/history of having sex with a child.
- How the offenders access the animals revealing their opportunistic nature
- The animals as well as children and adults that become the victims.
- Numbers on the adjudication of bestiality cases demonstrating the need to intensify legislation and penalties.
- Factors to take into account that serve as red flags for an abuser and an abused animal.
- Reporting incidents
- Why it must be taken seriously based on its risks to the animal as well as the link crimes.
- How to best report potential incidents where children are involved.
- Veterinary and animal control staff’s obligations to report such.
- Jenny shed light on some of the webinar participant’s questions about:
- Bestiality’s link to cults or religions.
- Acquiring records for animal abuse cases and protection for veterinarians for reporting.
- Treatment and alternatives that may be taken by those with zoophilia.
- How the furry lifestyle and role play is linked to zoophilia.
- Words and resources to familiarize with related to bestiality.
- Putting bestiality offenders on the sex offenders list.
- “Great to see awareness being brought to this even though it is such a taboo topic.” — Hilary
- “Link between child pornography and child sexual abuse and bestiality was interesting.” — Kimberley
- “The tools on what to look for in your cases and emphasis on telling Law Enforcement to go after these cases and recognize them. The stats were useful too.” — kIm
- “Bestiality is far more complex and common than what is openly admitted – we need to pay more and closer attention to these crimes in South Africa.” — Michelle
- “The use of percentages and statistics was a good way to put things into perspective.” — Maria