World Bulletin / News Desk
The Israeli government has admitted to forcing female Ethiopian Jewish migrants into having contraceptive injections without their knowledge or consent. The women were deceived and told that the Depo-Provera injections were vaccinations and that unless they had them, they would be refused entry to Israel.
When Israel's Ethiopian community became suspicious of a dramatic decline in birth rates, investigations began to determine why. The Israeli government denied any wrongdoing but the health ministry has ordered a complete halt to all gynaecologists administering the drugs.
According to a report in the Atlanta Black Star, the Israeli government deliberately and knowling injected Ethiopian women who were migrating to Israel - the women were told that it was a vaccination, and without it, they would be barred from entering Israel.
Many have called the practice appallingly racist.
Investigations showed that the injections were responsible for a 50% in the birth rate of the the Ethiopian community. Conspiracy theories had long been circulating about forced sterilization however the Israeli Health Ministry stepped in after a documentary aired last month on the Israel’s Educational Network.
Health Ministry Director General Ron Gamzu sent out a letter to all Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO's) instructing them “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,” the news site Haaretz reported Sunday.
According to Haaretz, the documentary chronicled 35 Ethiopian women who immigrated to Israel eight years ago and said they were told they would not be allowed to move to Israel unless they agreed to the Depo-Provera shots.
“We said we won’t have the shot,” recounted one of the women, according to Haaretz. “They told us, if you don’t you won’t go to Israel. And also you won’t be allowed into (an assistance program), you won’t get aid or medical care. We were afraid … We didn’t have a choice. Without them and their aid we couldn’t leave (Ethiopia). So we accepted the injection. It was only with their permission that we were allowed to leave.”
Gal Gabbay,a local investigative journalist , showed in a report by a local investigative journalist, , showed that women in a transit camp in Ethiopia awaiting emigration were told they would have to get the shots in order to come to Israel. According to the Los Angeles Times, the possible side effects of the drug include a decrease in bone density that puts women at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture. In addition, returning to fertility can be a lengthy process and withdrawal symptoms can be acute.
Ethiopian Jews have faced widespread discrimination and isolation since being moved to Israel in the 1980s. Some were forced to live in transit camps or absorption centers to “adjust to society.” They face widespread discrimination in the job market and the educational system.
Hevda Eyal, author of the report “By Women to Women,” told the National that the birth control shots were about “reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor.”