Mexico queries US on alleged hysterectomies

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A whistleblower, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Centre, said detained women told her they did not fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy. AFP

Mexico on Monday said it had requested more information from the US on medical procedures given to migrants in detention centres, after allegations that six detained Mexican women were sterilised without their consent.

Rights campaigners alleged two weeks ago that a number of hysterectomies had been carried out at a privately run detention centre in the US State of Georgia.

The Mexican Secretariat of External Relations said it sent a diplomatic note “to clarify the situation, requesting information on the medical attention that Mexican citizens receive” at the Irwin County Detention Centre.

The secretariat said consulate personnel have interviewed 18 Mexican women who are or were detained at the centre, none of whom “claimed to have undergone a hysterectomy”, an operation involving the removal of all or part of the uterus.

The department said seven of the women interviewed had been treated by the doctor accused of performing the sterilisations.

Another of the women said she had undergone a gynaecological operation, although there is nothing in her file to support that she consented to the procedure.

The women interviewed did not deny that they had been “victims of bad practices for different reasons”, the secretariat said.

Mexico announced last week it was investigating the allegations of sterilisations, warning that such operations would be “unacceptable”.

The allegations came from a whistleblower, a nurse at the centre, where some detainees are held under US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

The nurse said that detained women told her they did not fully understand why they had to get a hysterectomy.

Project South, the Georgia Detention Watch, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network filed a complaint to the government on behalf of detained immigrants and the nurse.

US Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has called for an urgent investigation into allegations that at least 17 women were subjected to unnecessary gynaecological procedures that she called “the most abhorrent of human rights violations”.