Women in Custody at Immigration Detention Center Share Their Stories of Forced and Unwanted Medical Procedures; Including Sterilization and Hysterectomies

Women in Custody at Immigration Detention Center Share Their Stories of Forced and Unwanted Medical Procedures; Including Sterilization and Hysterectomies

Samantha Deras

This past September a former nurse of an immgration detention center in Georgia filed a whistleblower complaint alleging unfair medical treatment and questionable hysterectomies performed on women. Following this complaint, a report has been made in which at least 19 women have come out alleging medical abuse at this facility and are finally sharing their stories.

 

All of the 19 women were patients of the primary gynecologist of the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., Dr. Mahendra Amin. 

 

The nine certified OB-GYNs and two nursing experts responsible for writing the report say they found an “alarming pattern” of Amin performing unwanted gynecological surgeries, including the removal of reproductive organs such as the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, often without consent. 

 

“I felt pressured to do it; I signed the paper,” Amanda, a 28 year old immigrant from South America recalls her story of her procedure under the care of Dr. Amin. She claims she asked Irwin officials for access to her medical records for her attorney. Amanda never received her records.

 

The report goes on to say that Dr. Amin and the Irwin County Detention Center, “took advantage of the vulnerability of women in detention to pressure them to agree to overly aggressive, inappropriate, and unconsented medical care.”

 

“I didn’t have to suspect anything — he told me himself,” immigrant Pauline Binam from Cameroon says while sharing her story of Dr. Amin’s care. “I started crying — I was in shock and a daze … him just making that decision for me.” 

 

Another claim made within the report states that women who refused to pursue the procedures recommended by Amin were retaliated against, including them being involuntarily sent for psychiatric evaluation.

 

“Dr. Amin is a highly respected physician who has dedicated his adult life to treating a high-risk, underserved population in rural Georgia,” Scott Grubman, Dr. Amin’s layer said. “Dr. Amin is fully cooperating with investigators and looks forward to the investigations clearing his good name and reputation.”

 

A 34 year old Jamaican immigrant named Shereace shares her experience of waking up from an operation which she did not give consent for. She recalls waking up to Dr. Amin informing her that her fallopian tubes were “damaged and no good, and he let me know I’m never going to be able to have kids.”

 

“I was crushed,” Shereace added. 

 

Due to the records created by the Irwin detention center, Irwin County Hospital, and Dr. Amin appearing “incomplete,” and because ICE and Irwin officials have denied requests for medical records, many women still do not know what happened to them. 

These are women who have fled horrible circumstances of persecution, of torture, of rape, threats of murder, and are seeking refuge in this country and then they’re placed in a facility like Irwin and subjected to these abuses,” legal and advocacy director Azadeh Shahshahani said. “So the whole picture is very disturbing and there is a need for fundamental change. The call for accountability goes beyond this one individual doctor, it’s about the system.”