Our response to non-consensual hysterectomies in a detention center in Georgia

Nearly two months ago, Project South and Government Accountability made public a complaint on behalf of a former nurse Dawn Wooten. It details how personnel at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, USA subjected detained immigrant women to non-consensual hysterectomies and unnecessary gynecological procedures, and failed to take adequate precautions to protect detained immigrants’ health in the midst of the uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint and further media reports provide multiple accounts of the profoundly personal harm with life-lasting consequences that the gynecological interventions had on women. 
 
FAR wants to express its solidarity with the affected women and join the multiple voices raised by migrants organizations, lawyers associations, board-certified OB-GYNs and progressive US Congress women that have demanded thorough and immediate investigation of the facts and accountability of the medical personnel who engaged in the non-consensual and/or unnecessary gynecological procedures, as well as all those who failed in their oversight duties to ensure proper medical care for those held under their authority and jurisdiction. 
 
FAR also calls for the protection of the victims and the adoption of transformative reparations to ensure these violations will not occur again. The United States must ensure that women victims are adequately consulted and their rights and needs are placed at the center of any solution using a gender sensitive approach.
 
Which human rights are at stake?
 
Non-consensual hysterectomies and unnecessary gynecological procedures constitute clear violations of obligations of the United States under international human rights law. These practices violate migrant women’s right to live a life with dignity and safety; the right to substantial equality and non-discrimination; the right to the highest attainable standard of health, in particular, their reproductive health and bodily autonomy; and their right to privacy and security. Migrant women have the right not be subjected to any form of violence, including gender-based violence, neither to acts that may constitute torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
 
The lack of adequate precautions to protect detained immigrants’ health in the midst of the uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic infringes the right to substantial equality and non-discrimination and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.
 
Do you want to join Project South’s demands to close ICDC?
 
Project South, along Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Georgia Detention Watch, South Georgia Immigrant Support Network and Detention Watch Network, are demanding that Irwin County officials, US Marshals Service, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immediately terminate their intergovernmental agreement and contract with LaSalle Corrections, the private company that operates ICDC. The petition calls the government to abstain from entering into any new agreements and to shut down ICDC immediately. We invite you to read and sign this petition here. You can also share it on social media using the hashtags: #ShutDownIrwin and #AbolishICE
 
How is FAR supporting this issue? 
 
We have been collaborating with migrants and human rights organizations to ensure human rights mechanisms are informed about the violations reported at ICDC. We’ll share more details about this and other plans soon.
 
If you want to help us raise awareness on this issue on social media, please share and retweet our posts using the hashtag #ShutDownIrwin #AbolishICE#ReproductiveJustice  
 
Stay tuned for more information!