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    Default Reclusive Afro-Indian Culture Draws Tourism

    Andaman Islands tribe threatened by lure of mass tourism: Jarawa people at risk from disease, predatory sex and exploitation as tourist convoys crowd the road through their jungle

    "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 young woman giggled, looked shy and hopped from foot to foot. The camera swung back to the others who clapped, swayed and jumped.

    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 Jarawa tribe is 403-strong. Its members are trusting, innocent and hugely vulnerable to exploitation, living in a jungle reserve on South Andaman. The islands are a spectacular magnet for tourists, set in the Bay of Bengal and belonging to India.

    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.

    Every day hundreds of tourist cars line up on the Andaman Trunk Road, which winds through the reserve. Signs at the entrance warn them of the rules; no pictures, no contact, nothing to disturb the tribe members. Most are already struggling to come to grips with the diseases of the outside world which have beset them since they started to make forays out of the jungle 14 years ago.

    But, on the day the Observer visited, when the gates opened the cameras immediately started clicking. Tourists threw bananas and biscuits to the tribespeople at the roadside, as they would to animals in a safari park.
    According to the AFP, "The tribe, thought to have been among the first people to migrate successfully from Africa to Asia, lives a nomadic existence in the lush, tropical forests of the Andamans in the Indian Ocean."

    I have never heard of this culture before. Fascinating. It's also unfortunate that their culture will likely dilute rapidly now that they've been "found" by the world at large. Worse yet that their government is failing to protect them more effectively from profiteers, tourists, disease, and other predations on their livelihood.

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpVZ2e99gdQ&feature=related"]Jarawa Girls[/YOUTUBE]
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  2. #2
    XES 5231311252's Avatar
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    If I could communicate one thing to tribes like these, I'd tell them to automatically distrust those with phenotypes dramatically different from them. But since I can't, I'll just suggest these "tourists" start going on "safaris" through the Korowai tribe's homeland.
    “'Fuck', I think. What a beautiful word. If I could say only one thing for the rest of my life, that would be it.”

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