Omar Havana

Photographer
    
Inside a Cambodian Slaughterhouse
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: Omar Havana, 1975 Granada, Spain. Spanish Freelance Photojournalist. Based in Brussels, Belgium. Previously based in France 2017-2021, Nepal 2014-2015 and Cambodia 2008 - 2014 ; 2015-2017. Omar has worked as a professional photojournalist since... MORE
Public Story
Inside a Cambodian Slaughterhouse
Copyright Omar Havana 2022
Date of Work Feb 2013 - Feb 2013
Updated Jan 2020
Location Siem Reap
Topics abattoir, Animal Cruelty, Animal Rights, Animals, bloodbath, Business, Cambodia, carnage, Documentary, Editorial, Essays, Europe Photographer, Food, France Photographer, Industrial, Killing, livestock, Meat, Paris Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Pig, Sanitation, Siem Reap, slaughter, Slaughterhouse, South East Asia, Workers Rights
In a country where the demand for meat is ever-increasing and where pork is generally favored, Cambodia’s swine slaughterhouses are an important business. The Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture estimates that there is a total yearly production of over 2.4 million pigs.

Hidden in the darkness of the outskirts of Siem Reap, the city of the famous Angkor temples, an old abandoned building has been transformed into a pig slaughterhouse, where hundreds of animals are killed every night. Rivers of blood cover the floor of the building while dozens of workers, most wearing nothing but underwear, rush between the cries of the pigs to make a living.

Despite lingering fears from the 2009 swine flu epidemic, there is little regulation over these slaughterhouses. The process by which pigs are slaughtered is less than hygienic. One employee in a slaughterhouse can kill and gut up to 30 pigs a night over a seven-hour shift.  

As the animals arrive, they are lined up to their death. Those who try to escape are hit with bamboo sticks on the head, just one of the ways in which their lives will come to a brutal end. The animals are then swiftly killed by a knife stab to the neck, and then washed and gutted on concrete slabs and the floor itself.  

Between the thousands of flies wandering around, there is little time to waste for the workers, as markets in Cambodia open soon after dawn. Everyone here has a duty, from the young boy hitting pigs with huge bamboo sticks to those who split the animals’ bodies in two, taking their guts out. Two doctors stepping on floors full of blood certify the quality of the product in no more than a few seconds of inspection, and a broker chooses the animals that are going to travel in the back of a dirty lorry to the local markets to supply the increasing demand for pig meat in Cambodia.  

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) dictates that the best way to avoid contamination of the meat during the slaughtering process is to avoid contact with the floor, something which is ignored in this slaughterhouse where pigs are thrown to the floor many times during the killing process.

Photography: © Omar Havana. All Rights Are Reserved.
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