Friday, February 1, 2013

Ethiopian women sterilized in Israel

No country should be held to a double standard regarding human rights abuses. No country should be singled out for blame while we remain mute about another country's abuses.

The American media can be very aggressive in bringing to light human right abuses (and they should be) in Russian, Arab, African, Asian and South American countries.

In our 24/7 news culture, rarely does a State sponsored and administered human right violation occur without a severe rebuke and in-depth commentary. This is why I am absolutely appalled -- but not surprised -- by the American press not going 5 alarm on the immoral and heinous treatment of Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

Read on:

It isn’t an apology or an acceptance of responsibility. But for the first time, an Israeli government official has admitted what thousands of Ethiopian Jewish women have allegedly known for years – doctors in Israel have been injecting Ethiopian women with long-acting birth control medication known as Depo-Provera without the informed consent of the women. The effect of the shots lasts for months and the practice effectively sterilizes women for that period of time. Many Ethiopian women have reportedly received these shots for years with little or no say in the decision to receive them.

The Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Health Professor Ron Gamzu issued an order to Israel’s four health maintenance organizations to stop routinely administering Depo-Provera to Ethiopian Jews, Ha’aretz reportedyesterday, instructing all HMO gynecologists "not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.” He also ordered the gynecologists and other physicians to use Amharic translators when necessary to make sure the Ethiopian women understood their various treatment options and their side effects.

The Ministry of Health and other government ministries and agencies had until now denied knowledge or responsibility for the practice, which made international headlines when it was exposed by investigative journalist Gal Gabbay on the Israel Educational Television’s Vacuum news magazine in early December but which was first reported in a small Israeli print news publication five years ago.

“They told us people who frequently give birth suffer. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to,” one of the Ethiopian women interviewed by Gabbay on Vacuum said. 

Gamzu’s letter to the HMOs was issued in response to a letter from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel. The Association, which is representing several women’s rights and Ethiopian immigrants’ groups, demanded the injections cease immediately. It also insisted that an investigation be launched to determine how and why the near-blanket administration of Depo-Provera shots to Ethiopian women became the standard practice.

There has been an almost 50% decline over the past 10 years in the birth rate of Israel’s Ethiopian community. It is feared that a significant part of this drop has come from coercive administration of Depo-Provera. source

The only thing more shocking and disturbing than this story is the fact I have heard nothing about it in the American press. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, Washington Post, NY Times, Newsweek, Time, TMZ, Huffington Post have all decided to dedicate little or no coverage. 

A black-out?

Ironically, I have found more coverage in the Israeli press than in the American press. Go figure?!