IWA Condemns Forced Hysterectomies of Women Detainees

A woman who identified herself as Jennifer sits with her son Jaydan at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center after recently crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on June 21, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The International Women’s Alliance condemns in the strongest terms the mass and unauthorized (or forced) hysterectomies of women detainees, the majority of whom are Latinx, at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Ocilla, Georgia in the United States. IWA is a global alliance of militant grassroots-based women’s organizations, institutions, alliances, networks and individuals committed to strengthening international solidarity of women and oppressed genders against imperialist crisis and war.

Dawn Wooten (left), who filed the whistleblower complaint about conditions at the Irwin County Detention Center, participates in a news conference Tuesday in Atlanta. Jeff Amy/AP

The said detention center is run by La Salle Corrections, a private company that operates similar facilities in three Southern states. A Black practical nurse, Dawn Wooten – who works at the detention facility – blew the whistle to the press on the abuse she had witnessed. Many of the women were not aware of what kind of medical procedures were being performed on them.

Project South’s Legal & Advocacy Director Azadeh Shahshahani, who also represents Wooten, called for ICDC to be “shut down immediately.”

“These new shocking revelations further highlight the extent of the egregious abuses at the facility. The fact that Black and brown immigrant women are held in an extremely vulnerable position at this prison where they have no control over their bodies and no say about what it is done to them is sickening,” said Shahshahani. “The United States Government as well as the private prison corporation running this prison should be held accountable.”

What is happening in Georgia is not an isolated incident when it comes to attacks on reproductive rights. This clear violation of human rights is very reminiscent of the U.S.-sponsored program in Puerto Rico that mass sterilized one-third of poor and unemployed women between the 1930s and 1970s. Puerto Rico has been a colonial possession of the U.S. since the end of the Spanish-American War.

These hysterectomies are racist and sexist in character. They constitute a war on women and gender oppressed persons’ right to control their own bodies. This attack also exposes the state violence in the forms of ICE and the Border Patrol that carries out unimaginable terror on a daily basis against migrants and refugees, forced to come to the U.S. due to imperialist plunder and exploitation in their homelands. Detention centers are nothing more than concentration camps for women, children, the poor and people of color. IWA extends its unwavering solidarity to those groups who are carrying out protests and demonstrations against the atrocities taking place in Ocilla, Georgia and elsewhere.

STOP MASS STERILIZATIONS! SHUT DOWN ALL DETENTION CENTERS! SHUT DOWN ICE! LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

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