Is Cannibalism Legal in The UK?
7 mins read

Is Cannibalism Legal in The UK?

Our world is full of things that are completely against mankind, things that give shivers under our skin.

Be it crimes like rape, murder, etc, or things like cannibalism. The word cannibalism in itself is enough to develop fear in people’s minds, imagine living in a society where cannibals are legal.

It would be a nightmare, but luckily cannibalism is not legal, or is it?

Apparently, cannibals were in practice in the past!

Cannibalism surely is unethical, and immoral but is it legal in the UK?  Are there any laws regarding cannibalism in the UK? What is the history of cannibalism?

If you have such questions in mind then this blog is for you.

In this blog, we will take a deeper look into the scenario of cannibalism in the UK and will also check its legal status plus will be brushing off the dust from the historical evidence of cannibalism.

What is Cannibalism?

Cannibalism doesn’t need an introduction.

However, there still is a vast population that is unaware of this term.

Cannibalism is the practice of eating the flesh of one’s specie. The being that practices cannibalism is called a cannibal.

This may seem shocking, but how can one eat one’s kind?

But this is a completely valid statement and history has proven that cannibals exist. Even in the 21st century, cases of cannibalism pop up and become the headlines.

Even in the field of law, there is a famous case law of R V Dudley and Stephens where the facts were related to cannibalism.

Tribes, especially those completely isolated from the modern world, are suspected of practicing cannibalism.

Ruins and scripts from the ancient world also contain pieces of evidence of cannibals.

Therefore it can be concluded that cannibalism is not a new term, it has been in practice since the dawn of mankind.

However, today cannibalism is unethical, immoral, and illegal.

History of Cannibalism

Cannibalism is not new and sudden, it had been in practice since the first man stepped on this earth. Initially, man used to hunt for food, and there were no rules for hunting. A man-eating man was common.

We can find a plethora of evidence related to cannibalism in all parts of the world, however, the purpose of cannibalism differs from the palace of place.

In the ancient texts, cannibalism was the response to famine, people used to devour their kind to survive the brutal famine.

However, in some parts of the world (Aztecs), cannibalism was connected to religious beliefs, it was a way to communicate with God.

In Maori, the idea behind cannibalism was completely different, Maori people used to consume the flesh of their opponents after defeating them on the battlefield, this was done to celebrate victory and assert their dominance.

Therefore, the footprints of cannibalism can be traced to the staring of mankind.

Modern Day Cannibilism

People despite the idea of cannibalism. However, at times it has been established that people resort to cannibalism when they are trapped in a life-and-death situation.

In 1972, when the plane of the rugby team of Uruguay crashed in the Andes Robert Caness and his fellow survivors had to decide whether to eat their friends’ bodies to survive.

After they saw no hope of rescue they decided to consume their friends’ bodies to survive the adversity.

“I will never forget that first incision nine days after the crash. We laid the thin strips of frozen flesh aside on a piece of sheet metal. Each of us finally consumed our piece when we could bear to. Each of us came to our own decision in our own time. And once we had done so, it was irreversible.

It was our final goodbye to innocence.”

Writes Roberto Canessa in his book “I Had to Survive“. 

Is Cannibalism Legal in The UK?

Now the question that arises is, is cannibalism legal in the UK?

If a prudent person is asked this same question then his reply must have been a yes. After all, why wouldn’t a man be punished for eating another human?

But to our surprise, there is no specific law that prohibits cannibalism.

However, this doesn’t mean that cannibalism is legal and allowed in the UK.

The 2004 human tissue act prohibits any person from possessing human tissue without consent, this act is valid in England, wales, and Northern Ireland.

With the help of this act, many cannibals have been convicted, the most infamous case is of Stephen Griffiths, who was alleged of killing and consuming three prostitutes in Bradford. It was said that Stephen skinned and chopped the bodies of the victims before cooking and eating them.

This is also to be noted that, in the UK you won’t be punished for cannibalism, as no law prohibits it.

For the offense of cannibalism, you either will be prosecuted for murder or theft of body parts.

Let’s take a look at the case of R V Dudley and Stephens.

R V Dudley and Stephens

This case is proof that in the UK no law prohibits cannibalism.

Three men Richard Parker (cabin boy), Tom Dudley (captain), and Stephens were on a little lifeboat with little to no food.

After 8 days the cabin boy, Richard Parker passed out, the captain of the boat, Dudley proposed to consume the cabin boy, and to do so they slit his throat and consumed the body for 4 days until they were rescued.

In this case, Dudley and Stephens were charged with the offense of murder and were sentenced to death.

Later the punishment was commuted to six months of imprisonment.

This shows that in cases of cannibals, the charge is always related to murder, no offense of cannibalism was in question.


So this was all you need to know about the legality of cannabis in the UK.

There sure may be no specific law prohibiting cannibalism in the UK but other laws are defending the loopholes.

Law is ever-changing and with the demand of the current situation there soon may be a law specific to cannibalism.

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