Outrage over 'human zoo' on Indian islands
The Jarawa tribe have
lived in peace in the Andaman Islands for thousands of years. Now tour
companies run safaris through their jungle every day and wealthy
tourists pay police to make the women - usually naked - dance for their
amusement. This footage, filmed by a tourist, shows Jarawa women being
told to dance by an off-camera police officer. Rights campaigners and politicians Wednesday condemned a video showing women from a protected and primitive tribe dancing for tourists in exchange for food on India's far-flung Andaman Islands.
British newspaper The Observer released the video showing Jarawa tribal women -- some of them naked -- being lured to dance and sing after a bribe was allegedly paid to a policeman to produce them.
Under Indian laws designed to
protect ancient tribal groups susceptible to outside influence and
disease, photographing or coming into contact with the Jarawa is
The tribe, thought to have been
among the first people to migrate successfully from Africa to Asia,
lives a nomadic existence in the lush, tropical forests of the Andamans
in the Bay of Bengal.
India's Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo promised to take action over the incident, terming it "disgusting" on Wednesday, and the home ministry has sought a report.
Survival International, which lobbies on behalf of tribal groups worldwide, said the video showed tourists apparently enjoying "human zoos."
"Quite clearly, some people's
attitudes towards tribal peoples haven't moved on a jot. The Jarawa are
not circus ponies bound to dance at anyone's bidding," said Stephen Corry, the group's director, in a press release.
In June last year, Survival
International accused eight Indian travel companies of running "human
safari tours" so tourists could see and photograph the Jarawa.The London-based lobby group called for tourists to boycott the road used to enter the reserve of the Jarawa tribe, who number just 403 and are in danger of dying out.
The Andaman and Nicobar tropical
island chain is home to four other rare tribes -- Onge, the Great
Andamanese, the Sentinelese and the Shompens, each numbering fewer than
Another tribe called Bo died out in January 2010.
The Andaman police downplayed the
video, calling it "old" and blamed the British journalist for forcing
the Jarawas to dance for the tourists.
"It is obvious that it is the
videographer who is breaking the law of the land and who is inciting the
tribals to dance," senior Andaman policeman S.B. Deol said in a
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