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ICE hysterectomies are a form of genocide

ICE hysterectomies are a form of genocide

ICE hysterectomies are a form of genocide
October 07
01:00 2020

The year 2020 has been defined by an influx of disasters, and the overlap between them has exhausted us to the point where we can only partially process their awfulness. But if there are only so many current events we can attend to without cracking up completely, the literal genocide being conducted in ICE detainment camps should be one of them.

I have seen the forced sterilization of immigrant women being referred to by some as a “precursor to genocide”. Let me make this abundantly clear: The nonconsensual hysterectomization of marginalized people is an act of genocide in and of itself. Article II of the Genocide Convention, a treaty adopted by the United Nations, lists “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” as a definition of genocide. Essentially, even if no other abuses were being perpetrated against ICE detainees, the sterilization of said detainees would automatically be considered a genocide by the edict of international law.

Let’s get the inevitable (yet not unwarranted) Holocaust comparisons out of the way. Yes, the Nazis performed forced sterilizations, about 400,000 of them. They also separated families, incarcerated people for indefinite periods of time, and idolized a man who infamously equated marginalized demographics to vermin.

If these easy parallels aren’t enough to convince you of ICE’s guilt, consider the case of Josef Mengele, Nazi Germany’s resident evil scientist. He was appointed chief doctor of Auschwitz in 1943, and his torturous experiments on the camp’s Jewish prisoners were alluded to by none other than an ICE detainee, who described the center where she was sterilized as “an experimental concentration camp.” Dawn Wooten, the nurse who first brought this case to media attention, said of one doctor, “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy”.

America is no stranger to the practice of genocide, as the natives it massacred, the Black people it enslaved, the Japanese Americans it incarcerated and the LGBTQ people it let die of AIDS could very well attest to. It has been a genocidal country since its inception. But most people don’t know the ideas behind the Holocaust actually originated in America. The Nazis took most of their inspiration from eugenics programs popular in California during the early 1900s. One of these foundations actually funded a program Josef Mengele worked at prior to his stint as an evil Nazi doctor, and all in all these societies managed to sterilize around 60,000 Americans before anyone had bothered to familiarize themselves with the name Adolf Hitler.

While there has definitely been public outcry concerning these allegations against ICE, it worries me that so many people didn’t seem to see this escalation coming, or, while upset, are hesitant to refer to it as a genocide. We taught over the Holocaust in schools under the pretense of ensuring history doesn’t repeat itself, yet deliberately omitted and sanitized our own crimes, effectively othering the concept of genocide until Americans could not recognize its symptoms unless they were being presented by another nation. America loves to present itself as progressive, innovative and an exception to the rules other countries abide by, and it is this glorification of itself that makes our country so unwilling to self-reflect, and so ironically unevolved.

We must do whatever it takes to stop this ongoing genocide in its tracks and debunk the idea America is immune to committing atrocities. There is nothing commendable about the ways our country first came to be, and if we continue to sugarcoat our past, we will never evolve beyond the first stages of our foundation. Our past is shameful, our present is shameful and admitting this is the first step to securing a future we could potentially be proud of.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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