Above the Fold, September 18

Dear Colleagues,

This week, horrifying allegations of forced sterilizations and other abuses at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility were exposed by a nurse at a private immigration detention center in Georgia. According to the whistleblower, the center is allegedly performing mass hysterectomies on immigrant women without proper consent. 

This latest atrocity illustrates why intersectional feminism must demand freedom from all state violence on Black and brown bodies – including the freedom from reproductive abuse through sterilization, forced birth, and mass incarceration.

Indeed, we should be outraged and deeply saddened but we should not be surprised by these latest allegations. Forced sterilization and reproductive violence against Black and brown communities has a long, shameful and undeniable place in our nation’s history and, in fact, never ended. In California women in prison were coerced or forced to submit to sterilization, as recently as 2010. The victims of the California sterilizations were overwhelmingly women of color, many Latina. (The practice wasn’t even banned in state prisons until 2014.)

Forced sterilizations were historically highest in California and Puerto Rico because of the large Latina populations. The violation of Latina women’s bodies by ICE is not surprising, as government officials have justified the practice by labeling Latinas as “sex delinquents” whose sterilizations were to protect society.

Your efforts to place women of color at the center of decisions and power over their own bodies and futures is critical, now more than ever. 

We cannot — and will never — have gender justice without racial justice. Thank you for continuing to hold philanthropy accountable, ensuring that all women and girls are respected and afforded our human rights.

Yours for equity and justice, 

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

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