Women from a variety of area social justice organizations gathered outside the Detroit offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to speak out against the forced sterilization of immigrant women in their custody. The protest comes in the wake of a complaint filed by Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the privately-owned Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. The whistleblower described a high rate of hysterectomies without the informed consent of the patients and medical neglect, including basic protections from Covid-19 for detainees.
Seydi Sarr, from the African Bureau of Immigration and Social Affairs (ABISA), said this is not news to Black women in America. “Years down the line, our sisters remembered that in the name of science, their bodies were used, assaulted so that we could have OBGYN care. Somebody had to pay for that and Black women paid the price.” Sarr said the days of women of color suffering in silence are over. “No longer will we be afraid of being labeled as angry for speaking out against the atrocities committed against us.”
Consuela Lopez, Executive Director at AMANDLA spoke haltingly about contracting Covid-19 in June and losing dozens of friends and family to the disease. After 3 days in isolation, a doctor came in and told her “You might have two weeks to six months to live.” and then he left abruptly. It made her wonder how she would have been treated differently if she were white or at least had better insurance. Lopez said we must demand that our elected officials do more to make sure women of color receive equitable care. “Do we look out for each other in real-time or is it just talk? Our elected officials and appointed officials when it’s time for us to vote you’re out here talking to us but when it’s time to do something everyone disappears.”
Elder Leslie Mathews, Michigan United’s Criminal Justice and Faith in Justice Program Director shared a story that clearly illustrates the depth of systemic racism in America. She spoke of an experience she had with an African-American, female doctor who tried to convince her to have a hysterectomy. When she refused the doctor laughed and told her she would be back in a couple of years. Mathews said, “Had I been back in a couple of years, the two beautiful children that I had after that experience would not be here.”
Mathews then read a list of demands the group issued seeking to resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again.
Dr. Mahendra Amin to be permanently removed from Irwin detention center and his medical license must be revoked.
Charge Dr. Amin with human rights violations.
Fire Ada Rivera, Medical Director of the ICE Health Service Corp.
Ensure that women who tell their stories are not deported.
Provide a level of care that reflects the best medical practices.
Close all privately owned detention centers.
All detention centers should cease and desist unconsented, unlawful surgeries.
Victims of these atrocities must be made whole with financial payments for the loss of the ability to carry life in the future.
Mental health fund to support women who’ve experienced unconsented, unlawful surgeries regardless of whether they live in or outside of the United States.
Abolish ICE to Stop Human Rights Abuses.
Cease and desist deportations of any and all detainees having had any reproductive health surgeries.
Investigation of all reproductive surgeries
Protection for past and present whistleblowers working at these facilities
Cease any deportations of any immigrant that needs health care