Sunday, December 09, 2012

Ethiopian women claim Israel forced them to use birth control before letting them immigrate

(Dec 09, 2012, The Times of Israel)--Ethiopian women who moved to Israel eight years ago claimed Israeli officials coerced them to receive injections of Depo-Provera, a long-acting birth control drug, as a prerequisite to immigration.

Speaking to reporters on an episode of Israel Educational Television’s investigative show “Vacuum” that aired on Saturday, several immigrants described the intense pressure placed on them to keep their families small.

The women claimed Israeli representatives from the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Health Ministry told them that raising large families is especially difficult, that it is for hard people with many children to find work and support their families, and that many landlords would not be willing to rent apartments to large families.

Gal Gabbai, the show’s anchor, reported that in the past decade, approximately 50,000 Ethiopian Jews have immigrated to Israel. During that period, the birth rate among this community, which has traditionally favored very large families, has plummeted by nearly 50 percent.

Several women interviewed by Gabbai said that they were told at the transit camps in Ethiopia that they had to receive the shots if they wanted to immigrate to Israel and continue receiving medical treatment from the JDC. Furthermore, many of the women claimed they were never told that the shots were to prevent pregnancy. Rather, they were under the impression that the shots were vaccinations.

Some women reportedly refused to tell their husbands about the shots, fearing the men would be furious. The report said many women continued to receive Depo-Provera after arriving in Israel, despite suffering such side effects as severe headaches and abdominal pains. Read more from The Times of Israel »

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