BEIJING, March 3 -- Cyber sadists have figured out a way to profit from cruelty to small creatures, and animal rights activists say it's high time China enacts tough laws to stamp out such abuse.
Several Websites have cropped up recently offering videos and still photos of dogs, cats, rabbits and toads being stomped to death by a sexy woman wearing stockings and high heels.
These images are usually linked with more typical sadomasochistic fare consisting of a female in stiletto heels tramping on the chest of a man.
A Shanghai Daily investigation turned up several such sites, offering "Gts,'' which stands for "great women, small men" and "Crush'' products.
Animal "snuff" videos were posted on these sites for sale at 15 yuan (US$1.87) each. There were bulletin boards for fetish fans, who could even join a group called the International Crushing Association.
At least one of the sites was reportedly registered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.
Several disturbing videos were offered for free. It was impossible to tell where they were made, and while Shanghai Daily could not confirm that animals were actually being killed in the videos, the content appeared to be authentic.
In one, a scantily clad woman with Chinese features posed with a small kitten along a riverbank, at first gently caressing the animal's fur. She then began stomping on the kitten with her high-heeled shoes, crushing its body and head and leaving it in a lifeless, bloody heap.
One Website, www.crushworld.net, was shut down after a Chinese newspaper contacted it to complain, and animal lovers left numerous angry messages on some of the other Crush sites.
At least one of the sellers, however, was unrepentant.
"These movies are not nasty; I don't think they're illegal," a man surnamed Han who markets the videos online told the Shanghai Morning Post.
Han said he offers dozens of different videos and has sold hundreds of discs to people from all over the country since he started the business two years ago.
"All the videos I sell show beauties dressed in sexy clothes crushing a small animal to death," he said. "They are selling very well."
Zhang Haiyin, director of the Shanghai Mental Consultation Center, said the people who buy these products are disturbed individuals who may take pleasure in seeing another living creature suffer because they can't achieve their own life goals.
"These people are most likely those who can't realize their own dreams."
Animal rights activists care little about the motivation behind the videos. They just want the cruelty stopped.
He Yong, a spokesman for the Beijing office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said these videos point up the need for laws preventing cruelty to animals. China's present legislation is too vague to be much good, critics say.
"Our group hasn't looked into the source of these videos, but for the sake of these animals and for humans as well China needs laws to protect small creatures from harm," He said.
"Those who are heartless enough to harm animals may also be potential threats to the people around them."
(Source: Shanghai Daily)