Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jarawa Tribe used for trophy photos in human safaris

The Jarawa Tribe of the Andaman Islands (owned by India) have only recently had contact with the outside world (1998) and that contact has been abused since then and has now descended into human safaris, where tourists hope to get a photo of one of the 403 tribal members. Evidence is now there that some police, who are supposed to protect the Jarawa people from this, are actually assisting the tourists in getting their trophy photos.

The Guardian/Observer
"Dance," the policeman instructed. The girls in front of him, naked from the waist up, obeyed. A tourist's camera panned round to another young woman, also naked and awkwardly holding a bag of grain in front of her. "Dance for me," the policeman commanded... The role of the police is to protect tribespeople from unwelcome and intrusive outsiders. But on this occasion the officer had accepted a £200 bribe to get the girls to perform. "I gave you food," he reminded them at the start of the video.
The Observer reporter noted
Tourists threw bananas and biscuits to the tribespeople at the roadside, as they would to animals in a safari park.
Too little has been done to date to protect these very vulnerable people
In an attempt to reduce contact, the authorities have cut the number of convoys to eight a day, but they will not close the road completely – as the supreme court ordered in 2002 – because they say too many people rely on it.
In 2007 the government established a buffer zone around the reserve, hoping to protect the tribe from further interaction with the outside world, in particular a luxury resort being constructed on the very edge of the reserve by the Barefoot India tour company. The company hired lawyers to fight the zone and the case is currently with India's supreme court: in the meantime the resort stands abandoned in a clearing near the shore of Constance Bay, on the west coast of the island. But the safaris go on, four each way, day in, day out, and the police admit they are powerless to prevent some contact between the tribe and the tourists.
The human rights group Survival International, which has been campaigning for the Jarawa for nearly 20 years, believes the current situation is precarious. "The Jarawa could easily be decimated or reduced to a state of dependency, as has happened to so many other tribes worldwide," says spokeswoman Sophie Grig. Survival argues that closing the road would at least allow the tribe to decide whether it has contact.
Visit Survival International to see how you can help the Jarawa Tribe. Pressure must be applied to protect these people and it must be applied quickly.

I have posted about the Jarawa Tribe before here


Steve Julian said...

The future ahead for the people is bleak. Indigenous people are being exploited. They will succumb to the material economy and not do well there. The world has not learned a god-damn thing when it comes to living with Indigenous folk. Sad outcome for sure. The zoo or wildlife park comes to mind.

Mel Siebel said...

Have to agree with Steve when he states that the world has not learned one thing about living with Indigenous people. I grew up in Malaysia and have observed this with the Orang Asli there. From an earlier blogpost comment regarding the Jarawa, the only way they will see any equity is if the power is put in their hands to control who has access to them. If they are not given this basic human right, there won't even be a chance for any good outcome.

Warren Pohatu said...

The problem is... until these indigenous cultures buy into the western model of modern life they are looked upon as 'third world' (maybe fourth) and treated a lesser beings. As soon as they do buy in... they begin the process of forfeiting their culture... it is a no win situation and all indigenous people have suffered the same fate... damned if yo do, damned if you don't...

Marty Mars said...

Awesome comments - sorry it has taken so long to acknowledge them. Thank you for your thoughts Steve, Mel and Warren.