Outrage continues to grow among human rights groups and Indian politicians in response to a video showing women from the Jarawa tribe being bribed by tourists to sing and dance in exchange for food, the Associated Foreign Press reports.
The footage taken by foreign correspondent Gethin Chamberlain, first posted on the Guardian's website, shows the Jarawa women being coaxed to dance and sing by an off-camera voice, allegedly a policeman that tourists had bribed to produce members of the tribe, according to the AFP report.
The Jarawa are an ancient tribe of people that have lived on India's distant Andaman islands for thousands of years. And though numerous laws are currently in place to protect Andaman tribal groups from exploitation, Indian travel companies continue to operate safaris through the jungle for wealthy tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the people, the Guardian reports.
"This story reeks of colonialism and the disgusting and degrading 'human zoos' of the past," Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, a group that lobbies for the rights of tribal groups, said in a press release. "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."
The Jarawa tribe currently has just 400 members and is one of four tribes living on the tropical Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They are thought to be one of the first tribes to have successfully migrated from Africa to Asia and are among the rare group of people considered to be "uncontacted tribes," defined by Survival International as people who've had little or no contact with the outside world.
As such, uncontacted tribes are especially vulnerable to outbreaks of disease. The Jarawa people have been battling measles outbreaks since they made contact with outside villagers for the first time in 1998, an act of desperation brought on by the construction of roads through the forest, Wired reports.
Photos of an uncontacted tribe in Peru, which show the people looking skyward in shock as the photographer flies overhead in a helicopter, made headlines when they were released last year.