[News] Did Israel violate the Genocide Convention by forcing contraceptives on Ethiopian women?
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 29 11:33:53 EST 2013
Did Israel violate the Genocide Convention by forcing contraceptives
on Ethiopian women?
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 23:13
After initial denials, Israel has admitted that medical authorities have
been giving Ethiopian women long-term contraceptive drugs
and it has been alleged that this was done without the women's consent.
If the allegations are proven, this practice may fit the legal
definition of *genocide.*
The government has now ordered clinics not to renew prescriptions for
the long-acting injectable contraceptive drug Depo-Provera "for women of
Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not
understand the ramifications of the treatment."
Allegations of coercion and threats
In some cases, the drugs were reportedly administered to women waiting
in transit camps for permission to emigrate to Israel. The women's
allegations, reported by /Haaretz/ are shocking
"We said we won't have the shot. They told us, if you don't you
won't go to Israel And also you won't be allowed into the Joint
(American Joint Distribution Committee) office, you won't get aid or
medical care. We were afraid... We didn't have a choice. Without
them and their aid we couldn't leave there. So we accepted the
injection. It was only with their permission that we were allowed to
leave," recounted Emawayish, who immigrated from Ethiopia eight
years ago. She was one of 35 women, whose stories were recorded by
Sebba Reuven, that relate how they *were coaxed and threatened* into
agreeing to receive the injectable birth control drug.
Dramatic decline in Ethiopian birthrate
The journalistic investigation was prompted by a precipitious decline in
the birth rate among Ethiopian women in Israel:
About six weeks ago, on an Educational Television program journalist
Gal Gabbay revealed the results of interviews with 35 Ethiopian
immigrants. The women's testimony could help explain the *almost
50-percent decline* over the past 10 years in the birth rate of
Israel's Ethiopian community.
The Genocide convention
From /The Independent/:
Sharona Eliahu Chai, a lawyer for the Association of Civil Rights in
Israel (ACRI), said: "Findings from investigations into the use of
Depo Provera are extremely worrisome, raising concerns of harmful
health policies with *racist implications in violation of medical
ethics.* The Ministry of Health's director-general was right to act
quickly and put forth new guidelines."
But if indeed the goal of those who administered the program was to
target Ethiopian women, and to reduce the number of births they have,
then the policy may be a crime under Article II(d) of the Convention on
the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
*(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;*
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
If the coercive contraception program were administered against women in
general, it would be unethical and abhorrent, but it can only be
genocidal if it is done "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such."
In this case, there is no allegation that the policy was employed
against anyone except Ethiopian women. That would be one indication of
These Ethiopian women emigrated to Israel under the "Law of Return,"
Israel's racist policy to only allow those it considers Jews into the
country, while keeping out indigenous Palestinians.
But remember, Israeli officials and state rabbis long delayed or denied
entry to tens of thousands of Ethiopians whose Jewishness did not meet
In the early 1990s, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir accused thousands of
Ethiopians of secretly being Christians
Ethiopians, even those who came under the Law of Return and are
recognized as Jews, have faced a long, documented history of state and
societal discrimination including being forced to attend segregated
Anti-African incitement from the top
The forced contraception has also come to light at a time when
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/africans-israel> and violence,
stoked by Israeli leaders
has reached unprecedented proportions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has also served as health
minister throughout his term of office, and is therefore personally
accountable for the policy, stated last year that African migrants
"threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state."
So the atmosphere in Israel is one in which hatred and incitement
targeting Africans in general is rife and encouraged by authorities.
Israel unlikely to discourage Jewish births in general
It would also be illogical that Israel would institute a general birth
control policy for women it recognizes as Jewish. Israel has no interest
in decreasing childbirths by Jewish women in general, and due its
obsession with demography, anxiously hopes that the Jewish birthrate
will accelerate and non-Jewish birthrates will slow down
Israel's two chief government rabbis also recently endorsed an
that specifically opposes abortions by Jewish women and whose stated
goal is "to increase the Jewish birthrate in Israel
But given the racism against Africans as Africans, whether Jewish or
not, it is plausible that the policy was meant to target Ethiopian women.
Even if it is proven that the policy targeted Ethiopian women and was
intended to prevent births among Ethiopians, Israel could argue that the
policy had other goals than "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." That would
require knowing the motivations of those who planned and implemented the
To put it mildly, Israel does not have a strong history of investigating
itself, and while genocide is a crime that any state can pursue, it is
doubtful that signatories to the Convention will challenge Israel's
impunity and investigate this case.
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