September 15, 2020
Contact: Nikki Metzgar, (202) 599-7642 /

WASHINGTON, DC – A whistleblower complaint filed on Monday, September 14 accused the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia of performing stunningly frequent hysterectomies on immigrant women in detention. The center houses people incarcerated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some women were reportedly unsure why the procedure, a surgery to remove a person’s uterus and possibly their ovaries to render them unable to become pregnant, was performed on them, or were not fully informed of what procedures would be performed on them.

The administration has a track record of subjecting women of color seeking entry into the U.S. to mistreatment related to their reproductive rights and health: it has detained thousands of pregnant women in detention centers with inhumane conditions and with inadequate access to health care; severely limited eligibility for asylum for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors; and tried to coerce detained immigrant minors into carrying their pregnancies to term by blocking their access to abortion, and tracked the pregnancies and menstrual periods of unaccompanied minors in custody. 

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow issued the following statement in response: 

“We must abolish ICE. It continues to detain pregnant people, separates thousands of immigrant children from their parents at the border, and deports Southeast Asian refugees and other immigrants from their loved ones. Forcing sterilization on immigrant women is horrific but it is not new. 

The U.S. has a long history of forced sterilization of Black, Native, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Japanese women and people with disabilities. Dehumanizing women of color and exerting control over our bodies and our families is part of the violence of white supremacy. Every person has the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in a safe environment, regardless of how long they have been in this country or where they are from.” 

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The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.