Israel TV Expose Says Falash Mura Women ‘Coaxed’ to Accepting Long-Acting Birth Control Drugs

Women in prayer in Gondar; photo by Offer Dahan.

Women say that while waiting in transit camps in Ethiopia they were coaxed into agreeing to injections of long-acting birth control drugs.

from The Times of Israel:

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

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.

… 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.

… 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.

… Israeli authorities denied all of the allegations. However, Gabbai revealed an official letter that she uncovered from the Health Ministry to Dr. Rick Hodes, the director of the JDC Medical Programs in Ethiopia. The letter praised the doctor’s work, noting that whereas fewer than 5% of Ethiopians use any form of birth control, Hodes achieved a rate of 30% among the patients he treated.

from the front-page of today’s Haaretz (free registration required):

Why is the birth rate in Israel’s Ethiopian community declining?

… “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… ”

… The Jewish Agency, which is responsible for Jewish immigration from abroad, said in response that it takes a harsh view of any effort to interfere in the family planning processes of Ethiopian immigrants, adding that “while the JA has never held family planning workshops for this group in Ethiopia or at immigrant absorption centers in Israel, the immigrant transit camp in Gondar, as the investigation noted, was previously operated by other agencies.”