The Jarawa tribe, 400 members strong, live in the reserve lush forests of South Andamans in the Indian Ocean. The Jarawa people lived successfully on their island without contact with outsiders for probably about 55,000 years until 1998. Since then, many have left their forest to settle in nearby towns and settlements. Now there are reports that Jarawan women and young girls are being forced to dance, some naked, in front of gawking foreigners for food.
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In the video, a group of females, some scantily clothed and others naked, dance for gawkers as they are being egged on by police. The tourists are seen throwing scraps of bananas and biscuits at the women. The video has shed a harsh spotlight on the island’s administration who have claimed that the film was shot 10 years ago, but these claims are false. The “human zoo” display was apparently caught on film (see below) last month for the world to see, and now human rights campaigners and international politicians are outraged.
The tourists’ and police’s antics were first uncovered in 2010, when tourists utilized an illegal route, Trunk Road, to enter the Jarawa reserve. Reportedly, the tour companies and cab drivers, usually outfitted with wealthy tourists, would coerce local police with bribes of upwards of $200 just to allow them to travel the illegal road.
Under Indian laws designed to protect ancient tribal groups susceptible to outside influence and disease, photographing or coming into contact with the Jarawa and some of the Andaman aborigines is banned.
Local Andaman organization SEARCH and Survival International, a lobby movement for tribal peoples, launched the tourist boycott of the illegal Trunk Road in June. The groups have also distributed pamphlets to tourists arriving at the islands’ airport, warning of the dangers of using the closed road. Up until now, their efforts had fallen on deaf ears, but the video has put the human safari issue dead center.
Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo promised to take action over the incident on Wednesday, calling it “obnoxious and disgusting.” He told the Sakal Times newspaper:
It is disgraceful if something like this is happening,” Deo said. “It cannot be pardoned. It deserves exemplary punishment.
It is undoubtedly deplorable that something this inhumane could occur in this day and age. What are your thoughts?