Israeli Comptroller to Find the Truth Behind "Forced Sterilizations" of Ethiopian Women

Israeli Comptroller Yosef Shapira has announced that he plans to launch an investigation into December's allegations that Ethiopian women were temporarily sterilized by the government without their consent.

The controversy began in early December when an Israeli TV show broadcast interviews with Ethiopian immigrants who said they were coerced into getting the the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera shots as a pre-condition for leaving their transit camps before moving to Israel. The report also cited data showing births among Ethiopian women in Israel have fallen by nearly 50 percent.

“They said, ‘Come, there are vaccinations, gather everyone,” Amawaish Alane, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, told reporter Gal Gabbay. “We said we wouldn’t receive it. They said, ‘You won’t move to Israel.’ ”

Comptroller Shapira said "it is possible that some of the women did not understand" the full repercussions of receiving the shots. He explained that his decision to investigate the use of Depo-Provera came in response to "appeals by female Knesset members, headed by chairman of the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child Orly Levi-Abekasis."

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter to the Health Ministry in mid-January citing serious suspicions it was conducting “a policy intended to control and monitor fertility” among the Ethiopian community.

The letter also said that the data reported in the media indicate an attitude toward the Ethiopian community that is “paternalistic, arrogant and racist” and “severely limits the freedom of Ethiopian women to choose the method of birth control most suitable for themselves.” The Health Ministry responded by telling HMOs to instruct their doctors not to renew Depo-Provera prescriptions for either Ethiopian women or women of any other nationality “if there is any concern that they do not understand the implications of the treatment.”

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