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‘Like an experimental concentration camp’ – Nurse speaks out on conditions at US migrant detention centre

The Tijuana-San Diego border. © Tomas Castelazo

A nurse who worked at a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia came forward this week with reports of unsafe medical conditions and concerns over the high rate of hysterectomies performed on detainees.

The complaint said that many women who were detained in the facility expressed concern about the high rate of hysterectomies performed in the facility. One woman in detention said, “When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”

Nurse Dawn Wooten said that one gynecologist, who has now been identified as Mahendra Amin, was referred to as “the uterus collector.”

The allegations were related to disregard for COVID-19 precautions as well, with Wooten saying she faced retaliation when she missed work while awaiting results from a COVID-19 test.

"I became a whistleblower, now I'm a target," Wooten said at a press conference, adding that "I'll be a target anytime" rather than staying a part of an "inhumane" system.

Since the initial whistleblower complaint was made early this week, one former detainee, Pauline Binam, came forward saying her fallopian tube was removed without her consent.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to these allegations, referring to the history of medical racism in the United States.

“If true, the appalling conditions described in the whistleblower complaint — including allegations of mass hysterectomies being performed on vulnerable immigrant women — are a staggering abuse of human rights. This profoundly disturbing situation recalls some of the darkest moments of our nation’s history, from the exploitation of Henrietta Lacks, to the horror of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, to the forced sterilizations of Black women that Fannie Lou Hamer and so many others underwent and fought.”

Amnesty International USA's Researcher on Refugee and Migrant Rights, said:

“The reports of hysterectomies performed on women detained in Irwin County without their full consent are deeply alarming… Unfortunately, the United States has a history of forced sterilisation. No one should be sterilised without their full consent, and people should be not be detained for seeking asylum.”

See more from The Independent here and Project South here.

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