While it is one thing for a woman to choose to have birth control, it is another to practically be forced to take it. In Israel, Jewish Ethiopian women have systematically been given shots of Depo Provera before they are allowed to enter Israel. Many Jewish Ethiopian women were told they could not enter the country unless they were given the shot. What is more troubling is the fact that Israel appears to be trying to neuter these women or prevent more Jewish Ethiopian people from being born without each woman’s consent.
Depo Provera has such side effects as a decrease in mineral bone density, dizziness, fatigue, abdominal pain and many other side effects – some that are prevalent in many birth control methods. 1 injection lasts about 3 months. Approximately, 120 000 Jewish Ethiopians or 1/3 of the that population were born in Israel; the rest of the population came to Israel via transition camps, where Depo Provera injections were common practice. This has resulted in a sharp decline in the birth of Jewish Ethiopians.
The fact that Israel believes that Jewish Ethiopian woman are unable to take care of their own health, particularly in regards to birth control is unethical. Every woman in any country should have the choice and be allowed to take care of their own body as they see fit without government interference. Feminist organization Isha L’ Isha reported that 60% of Depo Provera injections in one HMO in Israel in 2009 were given to Jewish Ethiopian women. Hedva Eyal, who is the head of Women and Technologies Project of Isha L’Isha stated that the ease of which any women ‘s personal decisions are ignored – especially that of poor and black women is shocking and I’d have to agree. Not only do these systematic injections force Ethiopian Jewish women into choosing between a new home in Israel, or a birth control shot, but they demonstrate the racism of the Israeli government who is promoting these deplorable and unethical practices.
Ron Gamzu, who is the director of Israeli Health Services, sent a response to Israel’s gynecologists saying that in cases where women do not understand what is happening to them, gyno’s were not to give the shot. This is a horribly, inaccurate statement as it does not specifically keep in mind the Jewish Ethiopian black women and the prejudice against them. It also does not say that what happens to women who understand what is happening to them perfectly-well and refuse the injection. Until each Jewish Ethiopian women coming into to Israel has the freedom to decline having a birth control injection and is still allowed to live in the country, this letter does little to appease the women’s rights issues at hand and to stop the curbing of the Jewish Ethiopian population.