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Migrants suffered from “unnecessary” gynecological practices in a detention center in Georgia

“Excessive, invasive and often unnecessary gynecological procedures” that were most often performed “without the consent or understanding” of the patients. This is what happened, as determined by an investigative commission of the Senate of USAwith migrant women who were sent to the Ocilla Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Irwin County, Georgia.

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The revealing report presented Tuesday by the Senate Permanent Investigation Committee (PSI) is the product of 18 months of investigations in which more than 70 witnesses were interviewed and more than 541,000 pages of records were reviewed, both from ICE as well as from the Irwin County Hospital, detailed the Univisión network.

The investigation began as a result of information provided by Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at the detention center who, concerned about the protocols against COVID-19 that were not followed in Ocilla in the midst of a pandemic, in 2020, learned of the other abuses that the migrants held there suffered.

When he did not get a response to his complaints to his superiors, which even cost Wooten his job, he provided the information to Project South, an organization that defends the rights of migrants, which together with four other groups filed a complaint about it.

Former nurse Dawn Wooten raised the alarm about the abuses being committed at the Ocilla detention center.


The 108-page report reveals that in the Ocilla center, the migrants were victims of medical negligence, refusal by detention center staff to carry out COVID-19 tests on detainees exposed to the disease, destruction of requests for medical attention, and even manufacturing of medical records, “regardless of the patient’s condition,” says Univisión.

In the investigation, the name of Mahendra Amin, the doctor who provided medical attention to the detention center, also surfaced.

“Dr. Amin subjected women to aggressive and unethical gynecological care (…) hastily scheduled surgeries when non-surgical options were available, misinterpreted test results, provided unnecessary injections and treatments, and proceeded without informed consent,” it notes. The report.

Facade of the Ocilla Detention Center in Irwin County.

Facade of the Ocilla Detention Center in Irwin County.

Dr. Peter Cherouny, commissioned during the investigation to review the reports of 94 patients treated at Ocilla, explained that “in 40 cases Dr. Amin removed the benign ovarian cysts from the patients, despite the fact that these cases ‘generally resolve without intervention surgery,’” says a fragment of the report quoted by CBS News.

Amin’s victims felt confused, intimidated and violated by these treatments, according to the investigation. Up to now, these patients have psychological sequelae and “live with the uncertainty of the effects that these treatments may have on their fertility.”

Despite the fact that the Irwin center only detained 4% of the migrants who were in ICE custody between 2017 and 2020, Dr. Amin performed 80% of the gynecological procedures registered in detainees throughout the country during that same period. , according to research.

Amin refused to testify voluntarily for the investigative committee and, when he was subpoenaed, used the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying, the PSI said. Despite this, the doctor has been under a criminal investigation by federal justice since the beginning of the year, they specified.

In 2013, Amid had been denounced by the Department of Justice and the state of Georgia accused of committing Social Security fraud by “ordering unnecessary and excessive medical procedures” on patients. The case was closed in 2015 after Amid paid a $250,000 fine but did not admit guilt, details CBS News.

The legislative report also indicates that an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a federal lawsuit is still ongoing about the Irwin center, the same one that was closed in September 2020 after learning of the complaints against Amid.

Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson holds a banner reading

Democratic Congressman Hank Johnson holds a banner reading “Believe women! Stop the abuse! Shut down Irwin now!” in September 2020. (Twitter/)


The case revealed by the PSI adds to another scandal registered in Georgia and in which ICE was also involved.

In July of this year, five migrant women filed a complaint against the federal agency alleging that they had suffered sexual harassment while in detention.

The victims, who were held in the Stewart detention center between 2021 and the beginning of 2022, indicated that a nurse forced them “to give him access to private parts of his body without medical necessity or justification,” says an article by Univisión.

One of the testimonies relates that he went to the defendant when he injured his wrist. “He grabbed her hand and insisted that she take off her pants,” says the complaint filed by the organizations Georgia Detention Watch, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of the victims.

Investigations into this case are still underway, but it was learned that the defendant continued to work at the same center after the complaints against him became known.

Source: Elcomercio

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