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‘Human Safari’ Forces Andaman Island’s Jarawa Tribal Women to Dance; Video Provokes Outrage

By Periscope @periscopepost

Screen shot from video of Jarawa women being made to dance for food.

The Jarawa, a reclusive tribe of Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, are supposed to be protected by Indian legislation from contact with outsiders, disease, and, it would hopefully go without saying, ridicule.

Which makes this already messed up video of half-nude tribal women being cajoled into dancing in exchange for food by a tour guide operating a “human safari” just all the more messed up.

The video was first released last week by The Observer and it accompanied a piece by Observer reporter Gethin Chamberlain, in which he claimed the voice telling the women to dance and reminding them that he’d already given them food was a policeman. The officer, who is charged with protecting the 403-strong tribe, its members “trusting, innocent and hugely vulnerable to exploitation”, had reportedly accepted a £200 bribe to get the girls to dance. Chamberlain also claimed that every day, hundreds of tourists line up to drive through the Andaman Trunk Road, which passes through Jarawa territory; though signs are posted everywhere warning them not to attempt to interact with the tribe, he said he saw tourists throwing biscuits and bananas to the people “as they would to animals in a safari park”.

Legal action. The video prompted outrage in India, where the home ministry promised a probe into the video. According to the Times of India, Indian authorities have launched a manhunt to track down the tour operators and thrown a host of charges against them: “The case has been registered under section 292 of Indian Penal Code (showing obscene material), section 67 of IT act (Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form), section 3 (2) of Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribes (forces a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance). The case has also been registered under section 7 (entering buffer zone for commercial activities) and section 8 (promoting tourism activities through any advertisement about Jarawa tribes) of Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act.”

“What horrible human outrages does this monstrous world of ours bring today?” asked Gawker’s Maureen O’Connor. “Human zoos”, evidently.

But is all what it seems? It’s unclear when the video was shot because Chamberlain himself, according to The Indian Express, didn’t shoot it: He got it from tour guides and local sources. “It is not clear when the video was shot; I understand it was in the last few years,” Chamberlain said in an email to The Indian Express. “There is no date stamp, but the file suggests a camera phone, which brings it closer to the present.” The Andaman police have refuted Chamberlain’s claim that it was a bribed police officer ordering the girls to dance and demanded he name his source; he has declined.

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