"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