Disturbing true story of Royal Navy officer who took creepy sexual photos of remote Sentinelese in attempt to ‘civilise’ tribes more than 100 years ago

A ROYAL Navy officer took creepy and sexual photos of Sentinelese people in a bid to “civilise” their tribe more than 100 years ago.

Maurice Vidal Portman spent 20 years in a “sexualised heart of darkness” on North Sentinel Island, it has been claimed.

Maurice Vidal Portman sits surrounded by Andamanese chiefs
Maurice Vidal Portman sits surrounded by Andamanese chiefs
Public Domain

The navy officer arrived in January 1880, to find “ten men on the beach who were naked with long hair”.

At this point, the passionate photographer, kidnapped the tribesmen so he could make them  pose in a number of “homoerotic compositions”.

An anonymous lawyer who has amassed a huge following on the Twitter account RespectableLaw tweeted: “”There’s been a lot of talk about the missionary killed by the natives of North Sentinel Island.

“They’re probably so aggressive because of this weirdo, Maurice Vidal Portman. So here’s a big thread about this creep and some facts from my decade-long obsession with the island.

Andaman Island natives in a painting by Maurice Vidal Portman, dated 1887
Andaman Island natives in a painting by Maurice Vidal Portman, dated 1887
Getty – Contributor

“He indulged his passion for photography by kidnapping members of various tribes and posing them in mock-Greek homoerotic compositions.

“During his 20 years in a sexualised heart of darkness, Portman measured and catalogued every inch of his prisoner’s bodies, with an obsessive focus on genitalia.”

The Sentinelese are considered to be the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world.

John Allen Chau, 26, was murdered there last week after trying to convert the tribe to Christianity.

John Allen Chau, 26, was killed and buried by a tribe of hunter-gatherers on a remote island in the Indian Ocea
Reuters

The lawyer also claimed that each time Mr Portman returned to the island, the Sentinelese hid from him each time.

Survival International, a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal people, has suggested the impact of Mr Portman’s antics might have driven the Sentinelese tribe’s hostility to outsiders to this day.

They said on their website: “It is not known how many Sentinelese became ill as a result of this ‘science’ but it’s likely that the children would have passed on their diseases and the results would have been devastating.

“It is mere conjecture, but might this experience may account for the Sentinelese’s continued hostility and rejection of outsiders?”

The Sentinelese, generally considered the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world, have violently resisted any contact with outsiders
The Sentinelese, generally considered the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world, have violently resisted any contact with outsiders

In one of his books, Mr Portman said he arrived on the Island to find “naked” men who weren’t friendly.

He claims they scared the “timid” islanders who reacted aggressively by driving him and his friends away

Mr Portman wrote: “This expedition was not a success… We cannot be said to have done anything more than increase their general terror of, and hostility to, all corners.”

Since Mr Portman touched down on the island, brief visits have been paid but the Sentinelese remain untouched by modern civilisation.

A group of anthropologists, journalists and activists said in a joint statement that continuing with the efforts to recover Chau’s body could lead to further violence and “completely unwarranted loss of life”.


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