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'No shot, no ticket': Ethiopians decry Israeli birth control policies

By | Last updated: Mar 29, 2013 - 12:26:43 PM

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In this Feb. 4 photo, an Ethiopian Israeli, who asked not to be identified, is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem. Accusations that Israel deliberately attempted to curb birth rates among its Ethiopian community have reopened a charged debate over discrimination against the immigrants, highlighting the state’s tenuous relationship with a community that has yet to fully settle into the Israeli mainstream. While the charges have not been proven, it remains unclear why so many Ethiopian women were receiving a controversial injection that is hardly prescribed to other Israelis.
Ethiopian women have told RT that Israeli medics forced them to take the controversial Depo-Provera birth control vaccination without explaining the severe side effects of the drug, which can leave a woman unable to become pregnant for up to two years.

The birth control vaccination was reportedly a requirement for the women to immigrate to Israel: “They told me if you don’t take the shot, we won’t give you a ticket, so I took the shot, but I didn’t know that it would prevent pregnancies. I didn’t know,” one woman told RT correspondent Paula Slier.

The gruesome side effects of Depo-Provera are so severe that the drug is not recommended for most patients.

“We are talking about a contraception that has heavy medical and mental effects—period irregularities, vaginal bleeding, osteoporosis, alongside mental side effects like depression, mood swings, rage and more,” said Sharon Eliyahu-Chai of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

At least six organizations—such as Tebeka, an Ethiopian legal aid group—now aim to take the matter to court over alleged human rights violations.

Last month, the Israeli Health Ministry’s director general ordered gynecologists to cease administration of the drugs, bowing to public pressure after accusations that they had been forcing the birth control injections on Ethiopian women without their consent.

Israeli officials have denied that the birth control program was part of a plan to reduce the Ethiopian birthrate. The scandal has worn on, with the organizations involved all pinning blame on one another.