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Women Sterilization, Deviance and Control

The recent news coming from a whistleblowers allegation that ICE detention centers have been forcing women to be sterilized without consent has shocked so many people around the country. Most detention centers are filled with African American, Hispanic, and Indigenous people. First allegations of forced sterilization appeared October and December of 2019. A detainee reported that a doctor was performing this procedure and that women were given incomplete and false information about the procedure. Another issue was the fact that a lot of the detainees do not speak English or understand English well. There was a lack of proper translation going on from English to Spanish.

A nurse from Georgia reported that many patients were unclear as to why such procedure is being done and why it was necessary. The nurse is also unclear as to whether these procedures were medically necessary. A hysterectomy ends a women’s chances of getting pregnant. Why are detention centers performing these surgeries without any reason?

This isn’t the first time we see ICE abusing their authority and failing to protect immigrants. COVID-19 cases have been rising in detention centers because they are not doing enough to manage the virus. There are now 2,500 cases in detention centers, however we don’t know really how many cases there are because there are many cases not being counted for.

Sterilization of women has been going on in this country for a very long time. Most commonly, sterilization occurs in women’s prisons. This is the first time we are hearing of sterilization in detention centers. It is unacceptable and outside the powers of ICE to be performing the surgery. Forced sterilization definitely is a human rights violation. It is a violation to ones right to freedom from torture or inhumane treatment. In a way this relates to social control because women are losing their right to live freely. The minute something is forced on a population it shows the government trying to control that certain population.

Social control, according to theorist Emile Durkheim, refers to a way society attempts to prevent and sanction behavior that violates norms. ICE are attempting to control detained immigrants in this country by not letting them have children. Not only are their rights to live freely stripped but also the opportunity to bear a child. In all religions, the opportunity to have a child is such a sacred opportunity.

The question to ask is how deviance plays a role in all of this. A behavior is deviant based on the circumstances where the behavior occurs. Under this circumstance, these behaviors would be considered deviant. ICE is performing operations outside the norm. Usually hysterectomies for women are performed due to medical reasons and they are prepared for this surgery. What ICE is doing is deviant. They are preventing children being born for no reason. The women do not have a medical reason for the surgery, in fact they don’t even know what is being done to them. ICE is failing to protect detained immigrants and violating so many human rights.

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