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Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, called the frequent practice of hysterectomies, a “silent pandemic.” Photo: Getty Images
Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, called the frequent practice of hysterectomies, a “silent pandemic.” Photo: Getty Images

ICE hits a new low after whistleblower alleges mass hysterectomies at Georgia center

Detention centers only get worse. Not only are there poor safety conditions, there is also medical negligence and unsanitary conditions.

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Through the advocacy group, Project South, former ICE Nurse Dawn Wooten filed a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security about human rights violations against immigrants she witnessed during her time at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. 

In the complaint, Wooten alleges a lack of medical care, unsafe work practices, and the absence of adequate protection against COVID-19 for the detained immigrants and employees at the detention center.

However, the most disturbing claim made by the former nurse alleges high rates of hysterectomies being performed on Spanish-speaking immigrant women. 

It’s an operation where part or all of a woman’s uterus is removed, and Wooten said in her complaint that she believed the women did not fully understand why the procedure was being performed on them. 

She further characterized the procedure’s frequency at the center as a “silent pandemic” when interviewed by The Intercept when also considering the other problematic safety violations at the center. 

The revelation has sent shockwaves across social media and has some of the country’s leaders decrying the continued mass human rights violations occurring daily at the border. 

Hysterectomies are another violation to add to the list.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quote tweeted an article on Twitter about the complaint and said the country must “atone for it all.”

Following the release of the complaint, ICE said in a statement on Sept. 14 that it was taking the allegations seriously and is “firmly committed to the safety and welfare of all those in its custody.”

However, it also told the AP that “anonymous unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”

In the complaint, Wooten said the “rate at which the hysterectomies have occurred is a red flag.” She also added that one doctor performs the operation on every person he sees, in one instance even removing the wrong ovary from a young immigrant.

One detainee that’s also spoken out described the detention center as a concentration camp to the advocacy group Project South, noting the center’s propensity to treat detainees like test subjects. 

“It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies,” they said.

Other government officials, like AOC’s fellow squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley, are calling for an investigation into the matter.

In addition to government officials, Azadeh Shahshahani, a human rights attorney at Project South, is also joining the fight. 

“For years, advocates in Georgia have raised red flags about the human rights violations occurring inside the Irwin County Detention Center,” she said, adding that the whistleblowers' statements were confirmations of what detainees have been claiming for many years.

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