Authorities on India's Andaman Nicobar islands have been asked to explain a video showing naked tribal women dancing for a group of tourists.
by Archana Chaudhary
The Indian government on January 11 asked the Andaman and Nicobar administration to explain how half-naked tribal women were forced to dance for tourists, after an article and video shot by the British newspaper The Guardian emerged. Tribal affairs minister KP Singh Deo called the incident "Obnoxious, disgusting and disgraceful."
The Guardian has posted on its website footage filmed by a tourist showing half-naked women who belong to the Jarawa women being told to dance for tourists by an off-camera uniformed police officer. Journalist Gethin Chamberlain who was part of the crowd that witnessed the incident said that the police officer had taken a bribe of about $300 to arrange the dance. The video shows three women dancing for the tourists, as a camera points at them, and the police officer reminding them, "I gave you food." Chamberlain says that the video was shot about two or three years ago, writing, "This kind of video is the trophy tourists dream of when they set off into the jungles of the Andaman Islands "on safari". The beauty of the forest functions merely as a backdrop. The goal of the trip is to seek out the Jarawa, a reclusive tribe only recently contacted, which is taking the first tentative steps towards a relationship with the outside world... The role of the police is to protect tribes people from unwelcomed 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."
Law and minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid has said that strict action should be taken against those responsible. Not surprisingly, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration expressed that it was unclear when the video clip was recorded and the person alleged to have asked the women to do so was not a policeman. "It is clarified that at the time this video was recorded, most of the Jarawas did not wear clothes. Even today those in the jungle are not clothed. It is also obvious that it is a videographer (who is breaking the law of the land) and who is inciting them to dance," a statement released by the state police said. Furthermore, they claim that the "police-officer" in the video is wearing camouflage, which is reportedly not the uniform of police in the Andaman.
In 2010, Survival International, a non-profit organization exposed that tourists were taking illegal routes to enter the reserve of the Jarawa tribe, which was being protected by the administration that is against Jarawa tourism. British dailies The Guardian and The Observer report that tour companies and cab drivers attract the Jarawa with biscuits and sweets, The Guardian and The Observer had said in their report published in January last year.
Check out the video in question here (please note, there is brief nudity!):