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Survival has urged India’s Supreme Court to take immediate action against ‘human safaris’, exactly a year after the world was shocked by an international exposé of semi-naked Jarawa women being forced to dance in exchange for food.
Despite the scandal attracting widespread condemnation, authorities on the Andaman Islands have continued to ignore a subsequent court order that imposed a five-kilometer buffer zone around the tribe’s Reserve.
Survival has accused the Andamans of committing a ‘serious and continuing contempt of court’ through these ‘flagrant breaches’, and has appealed for the Supreme Court to take action.
Its letter to the Court includes photographic evidence of tourists traveling through the Reserve, ostensibly to visit the island’s limestone caves and mud volcano, which were ordered to close under the buffer zone ruling last July.
Download Survival’s letter to the Supreme Court (pdf, 2.3 MB)
Survival’s urgent appeal comes just weeks ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on the buffer zone, which was introduced to stop tourists exploiting the tribe.
Survival first exposed ‘human safaris’ in 2010, but the issue grabbed worldwide headlines exactly a year ago, after a British newspaper released a video of Jarawa women being forced to dance for the amusement of outsiders.
The article prompted an outcry in India and the rest of the world.
If implemented properly, the buffer zone would significantly reduce the number of tourists going into the Jarawa’s forest, providing no legitimate reason for tour operators to take day-trippers through the Reserve. However, six months since the ruling, the caves and volcano remain open, in defiance of the Supreme Court’s explicit order.
This is not the first time the Andaman authorities have ignored the Supreme Court. The Andaman Trunk Road, which cuts through the Jarawa’s Reserve, was ordered to close in 2002, but still remains open.
Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘January is peak season for tourism in the Andaman Islands. As a result of the government’s refusal to close the caves and volcano, hundreds of tourists are still traveling through the Reserve every day to ogle at the Jarawa. The Supreme Court must stand up to an administration that repeatedly ignores its jurisdiction. By not doing so, the blatant exploitation of one of the world’s most vulnerable tribes is being allowed to continue.’