On Monday, news broke that an ICE detention center in Georgia was performing mass hysterectomies on migrants without their consent. The allegations came from a nurse at the facility along with numerous detained migrants and left many people shocked.
However, the U.S. has a long history of forcing people – especially people of color – into unwanted sterilization, which is a human rights violation and a form of eugenics.
Of course, when it comes to undocumented immigrants, who are regularly referred to as “unwanted” “aliens” by the current president, it’s not so surprising that these practices went unreported for so long. One immigrant in the complaint put it best: “This place is not equipped for humans.”
An ICE nurse and several migrant women allege that a doctor is removing women’s reproductive systems without their consent.
According to the complaint filed Monday by Project South, an Atlanta-based non-profit, a high number of detained immigrant women held at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Ga., are receiving hysterectomies, as well as other “dangerously unhealthy practices” at the prison amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time at the detention center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed, said she and other nurses questioned among themselves why one unnamed gynecologist outside the facility was performing so many hysterectomies on detainees referred to him for additional medical treatment. She alleged about one doctor that “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy,” and that he removed the wrong ovary from one young detainee.
“We’ve questioned among ourselves like, goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his speciality, he’s the uterus collector,” Ms. Wooten said in the complaint.
One detainee, interviewed by Project South, likened the center to “an experimental concentration camp,” adding: “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
“If it wasn’t for my faith in God, I think I would have gone insane and just break down and probably gone as far as hurting myself,” the woman said. “There are a lot of people here who end up in medical trying to kill themselves because of how crazy it is.”
The same prison has also come under fire for its medical practices amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Project South said the complaint alleges “jarring accounts from detained immigrants and Wooten regarding the deliberate lack of medical care, unsafe work practices, and absence of adequate protection against Covid-19.”
It summarizes the disclosures Dawn Wooten made to the DHS’s watchdog, and quotes unidentified detainees extensively. Covid-19 complaints included staff refusing to test symptomatic detainees, failing to isolate suspected cases, and not encouraging social-distancing practices.
For their part, ICE says to take the reports with skepticism.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative released this statement to Law & Crime Newsin response to the complaint: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on matters presented to the Office of the Inspector General, which provides independent oversight and accountability within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results. That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”
Women in ICE custody have long been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.
Immigrant detention centers have long been accused of subpar medical care. However, the issue has become even worse amid the pandemic. The report filed by Project South describes how migrants are forced to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions and even thrown into solitary if they advocate for basic human rights. But even before the outbreak, immigrant women’s bodies have always been the target of medical malpractice and cruelty.
ICE has allegedly denied treatment to detained women with cancer, brain tumors, and breast cysts, and it has a history of policing their bodies. The Trump administration has been accused of tracking migrant girls’ periods to prevent them from getting abortions, introduced a policy to deny pregnant women visitor visas, and literally ripped mothers apart from their babies during family separation. Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, said women held at ICDC have said they are not given clean underwear which leads to infections and rashes.
She said detained women, who are mostly Black and brown, are in extremely vulnerable situations in which “they have no control over their bodies.” “It’s a very exploitative situation,” Shahshahani said of the hysterectomies. “There does not seem to be informed consent … they had pretty much no say in what exactly took place.”
It’s been said before that humor that mocks normative values can be funny only “if the humor is non-threatening.”
Truth be told, however, most of us known when sexist humor is more harmful than it is funny. According to Research Gate “jokes targeting women were perceived to be less funny, more offensive, and more sexist than jokes targeting men. Additionally, greater perceptions of threat were related to greater perceptions of jokes as offensive and sexist. However, women were not more threatened than men by sexist jokes. While these findings were not entirely consistent with our hypotheses, our findings suggest disparagement humor targeting lower-status groups is perceived more negatively than disparagement humor targeting higher-status groups and these perceptions may be inextricably rooted in threat posed to lower-status groups.”
Women and men of Reddit seem to be able to understand this truth because recently, they’ve been taking these jokes and calling them out for what they are: ridiculous and not so funny.
Check it out below!
“Downplaying how horrible periods can be. I’ve seen so many men act like women are being babies on their period and it’s just enraging.”- OverallDisaster
“To couple with this: downplaying our emotions because of periods. Anger or sadness can’t possibly be because of a bad situation, it it must be because sHe’S oN HeR pErIoD.”- InnocenceMySister
“Literally. And it’s funny because the hormone that increases during a woman’s period that apparently makes them so “emotional” is testosterone.
Edit- My comment has been getting a lot of upvotes so I just want to take this opportunity to tell you all this. I know it can be hard being a woman and things can feel really bleak/tiresome sometimes (especially since it’s 2021 and we haven’t made nearly as much progress as we should have in regards to gender issues) but just remember to keep your head up. Things won’t be like this forever. They have to improve. Hopefully.”- aetnaaa
“I have pcos which also causes painful periods. Before I knew I had it, I never understood how other women could just “get used to” having periods. Lots of women also downplay how bad periods can be because they don’t know how painful some of our periods really are.”- tropicalparadise27
“Oh man and the first time a cyst ruptures… you’re laying on the bathroom floor thinking this is the end ans now you die and why didn’t I clean the bathroom more since this is where my body will be found.”- TaysteePotayto
“Same thing happened to me dude. I was in college, my roomate thought I was dying and I was like naw, don’t you also vomit till the point of fainting crying because of the knives in your intestines on your period? Not normal I guess.”- porkbunasaurus
“Or when women with easier periods act like other women are lying! I’m very lucky and have never had a difficult period, it’s light with very few symptoms. But that doesn’t mean that I doubt other women when they share their experiences. Just because mine is generally okay doesn’t mean that others don’t have excruciating pain.”- shadesofpink44
“Everyone has different experiences so I can only share mine. I get PMS about a week before I start and I start to get irrationally irritated or sad. Sometimes my boobs hurt or I can’t go to the bathroom for several days. I actually get super hungry the few days before too. Then when I start my period I have horrible cramps in my pelvic region and lower stomach. Sometimes they’re so bad they take my breath away. Sometimes they wake me up in the middle of the night and they’re so bad I could cry. I also have (TMI) really bad digestive issues and constantly have to go to the bathroom. I also get migraines with mine + sometimes that causes nausea. Not to mention the fact it’s uncomfortable having to wear a pad or tampon which can cause irritation. For me the first two days of mine are super heavy so I’m bleeding a lot, and the more you bleed the worse your cramps are. Its bad when you start bleeding a lot and you stand up and it all just gushes out. It’s just honestly horrible for me, especially the first two days but then mine kind of tapers off and gets better, but mine used to last up to a week. I can’t say I block it out as I’m very aware of the pain but I try to take pain medication, wear comfy clothes, use a heating pad if necessary. Sorry this might all be TMI lol, but there’s just so much going on and I think it’s good to build awareness about it!
As far as tips the biggest thing is just to be understanding and patient, never diminishing someone’s experience or pain. I also like when guys don’t act grossed out by it, to me it’s a sign of maturity when a man is able to listen and have an open conversation about it.”- OverallDisaster
“Indeed, I think that as a society we’re starting to grapple with the fact that pedophilia is far more common than people assumed. I remember that I was started to be catcalled at 11 and my teens and early 20’s were the highest, and now in my 40’s never happens and is awesome. Men know they’re sexually harassing children, and get away with it because people turn a blind eye, blame the kid, or chose the believe the obvious lie of: I had no idea she’s 12, she looks like a woman, I couldn’t tell her age, like wtf?!
“Yeah, it’s absolutely insane. I remember getting catcalled (very aggressively) as a 7th grader by grown ass men. I always thought it was because I looked older until I recently saw a picture of 12 year old me. Nope, looked like a child. I was utterly shocked, sad and disgusted at the same time.”-Shaboinker2
“This, just today I was catcalled and basically harassed to the point where I had to step back inside my house. I was simply standing in the front yard with my kids. That’s all I was doing.”- HumanAdhesiveness360
“That’s not it except for especially shitty guys.
It’s more likely that the men in question have had little to no experience with women and thus don’t have enough samples to distinguish between friendliness and flirting.
Plus, a shy woman’s flirting might be less obvious than an outgoing woman’s friendliness, so if they had a shy girlfriend before their calibration could be skewed.
Or they could just be interested and made a move in the hopes of success without assuming anything. Men have to approach frequently to get dates, so asking out literally anyone you find attractive is a fairly common strategy.
Men aren’t a monolith any more than women are and there are loads of explanations that don’t require the guy to be an asshole. Most of the time, the dude’s probably just lonely.”- Odinh153
“The way the medical community approaches female reproductive health in general is awful. A close friend wants to get sterilized because she already has two kids, gets awful depression during pregnancy, and post partum depression that makes her suicidal. She’s happy with her family and out of genuine concern for her daughters, wants to be sterilized so she can be the best mum possible to them. Basically no long-acting contraceptive methods are suitable for her… IUDs either cause persistent bleeding or keep dropping out, implants cause awful bleeding for months etc etc…
But my partner called up a vasectomy clinic, booked an appointment on the phone, and it was done in under a week. No questions asked, no “what if you change your mind”… my friend’s life is genuinely at risk if she gets pregnant again, and it would leave two kids without a mother, but years of trying can’t get her what a man can have for asking once.”- kellerae
“It is infuriating how women are treated during childbirth. Actually abused in other countries.
Also, what I hate is that women always say, well “it hurt but it’s okay”; usually when their tear or episiotomy is stitched up with either no local anesthetic or an insufficient amount. No, it is not okay! Would a man have a vasectomy without anesthetic?
Really annoying how we are expected to grin and bear it.”- Suse-
“I just went to the GP to get an extension for my time off work after having ovarian cyst removed. The male gp said to me “I used to be really stingy about giving time off work to my patients until I got a really bad chest infection myself” I was a bit taken aback in his comparison of a bad cold to my abdominal surgery.”- camelsdonthavetoes
“inappropriate behavior from men, especially from a young age. If a boy hits a little girl he “just likes her”. That little boy grows up thinking there’s no repercussion for violence, and keeps hitting women. The cycle just goes on.”-professional_joe
“I know way too many women who think it’s normal to have to do most of the housework and childcare, plus the mental and emotional load of household management, even if they also have an outside job. Also to manage their husbands as if they are children who can’t be expected to remember to make appointments or buy their own clothes or things for the children or holidays or take care of menial tasks without reminders and help.”-FranzLuciferdinand
“My mum managed my dad a lot when I was a kid, but he has genuine problems remembering things, and fortunately I internalized it as ‘Dad can’t remember things so Mom keeps track for him’, instead of believing that all wives manage their husband’s schedule and that’s the natural way of things. He did his fair share around the house and also in our housing co-op. Now that I’m older it makes me sad to know that my parents’ fairly equal arrangement is not the norm.”- ohdearsweetlord
”dressing little girls in a way that makes it difficult for them to move around. your four year old should not miss out on valuable play because she doesn’t want to mess up her clothes or hair. her appearance should be the last freaking thing on her mind. it makes me so angry to see little girls having to sit on the sidelines while their brothers and male cousins play rambunctiously because their parents put them in a dress and expensive shoes. i hate the bullshit propaganda that little girls “naturally” prefer playing quietly indoors and/or alone. sure, it may be true for some little girls (just like it’s also true for some little boys), but you cannot tell me that socialisation doesn’t play a massive role in what kind of play children “naturally” prefer.”-parezcounapina
One of the stranger things to happen during the Trump presidency was the unlikely alliance between Trump and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). The former frequently spoke disparaging of Mexicans and pursued cruel and inhumane immigration policies that directly targeted the constituents of the latter. Yet AMLO was a major supporter of Trump’s most severe immigration policies and, in fact, helped bring them to fruition.
Now, with a new president in the White House, AMLO is being asked again to recalibrate his approach to immigration but having once been a major ally of Trump, how will he work alongside a President Biden?
Presidents Biden and AMLO host a virtual meeting to discuss a wide range of topics.
President Biden is hoping that Mexico’s President AMLO can help him avert another crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. However, given AMLO’s close alliance with Trump and support of his harsh immigration policies, Biden may face an uphill battle.
But as the administration faces an uptick in migrants attempting to cross into the U.S., Biden is hoping that AMLO can become a partner in preventing another cycle of out-of-control migration from Central America. The Mexican president appeared open to collaboration, issuing a joint statement committing to address climate change, the pandemic and migration north.
Their first head to head meeting comes after a rocky start for the two leaders. Mexico’s President was one of the last leaders in the world to congratulate Biden on his election victory, with many saying AMLO fears a Biden administration as potentially more interested in pressuring Mexico on its own domestic matters.
President AMLO was a key player in Trump’s harsh and inhumane immigration tactics.
Despite his racist rhetoric directly targeting Mexicans and his cruel and hardline immigration policies that largely shifted the pressure to Mexico, AMLO largely accepted Trump’s worst policies with little resistance.
As migrant caravans formed in Central America and attempted to make their way to the U.S. passing through Mexico, AMLO unleashed his newly formed Guardia Nacional to stop them in their tracks. His agents arrested and deported thousands of migrants back to their home countries, often using tear gas and other extreme tactics to do so.
And President AMLO said nothing as Trump implemented the “Remain in Mexico” policy which forced thousands of refugees and asylum seekers to await their claims on the Mexican side of the border, amid a global health pandemic, shifting the burden to Mexican officials.
Biden looks to continue many of Trump’s policies.
Although Biden campaigned against Trump’s harsh immigration policies, the president wants many of the same things from AMLO that Trump asked for: help in keeping Central American migrants from immediately surging north toward the United States through Mexico. And although Biden declared he would break sharply with Trump on immigration, he’s only abandoned some of his predecessors policies.
The Biden administration has formed a task force to unite parents separated from their children Trump’s family separations policy. He’s also begun welcoming back a limited number of asylum seekers who were exposed to violence and kidnappings in dangerous areas of Mexico under a Trump-era program. But the Biden administration has kept in place a separate Trump policy that empowers agents to rapidly expel new arrivals at the border to Mexican authorities as Biden hopes to avoid a crisis that challenged his predecessors.